The Less-Flamboyant Neighbor Who Also Helped Free Amanda Berry

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 8 2013 7:15 PM

Nobody’s Praising Angel Cordero, the Less-Flamboyant Neighbor Who Also Helped Free Amanda Berry

Screen shot 2013-05-08 at 7.16.14 PM
Angel Cordero did his part to rescue the three Cleveland woman from Ariel Castro's house but so far hasn't received nearly attention than Charles Ramnsey, the more Internet-ready rescuer

Screengrab from WEWSTV

Over the last few days, Internet sensation Charles Ramsey has been credited with breaking down the door of his neighbor Ariel Castro’s house, helping to free the women held captive inside. In his instantly iconic man-on-the-street interview, Ramsey told a local TV reporter, "I figured it was a domestic violence dispute. So I open the door. And we can’t get in that way ‘cause of how the door is, it’s so much that a body can’t fit through; only your hand. So we kicked the bottom."

A lot of people have missed the transition in Ramsey’s story—the shift from "I open the door" to "we can’t get in that way." As Ramsey suggests in his recounting of Monday’s events, he wasn’t alone in trying to kick in that door. The other half of that we was a man named Angel Cordero. Judging by Google search data, pretty much no one knows that Angel Cordero is kind of a big deal. As he explained in Spanish in a not-at-all viral interview with Cleveland’s WEWS TV, Cordero claims he actually got to the scene before Charles Ramsey. "The truth—who arrived here, who crossed the street, who broke the door. It was me," he said, according to the TV station’s translated voiceover.

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It’s obvious why Cordero hasn’t gotten as much attention as Ramsey in the mainstream press. For one thing, he doesn’t speak English. It also happens that, language barrier or no language barrier, he’s a lot less outwardly colorful than his McDonald’s-eating neighbor.

Another Spanish-speaking neighbor, Wintel Tejeda, told WEWS that Berry made the 911 call from his house. (A public records search confirms that Tejeda lives at 2210 Seymour Ave., the address that Berry gave to the emergency dispatcher.) "The problem is, we weren’t on camera," Tejeda said, via WEWS’ translation.

Tejeda was clearly joking, and the local TV report noted that both men claimed not to be jealous of the attention their neighbor has received. But if Charles Ramsey’s a hero (albeit one with a checkered past), Cordero and Tejeda certainly are, too. As NPR’s blog Code Switch notes, the not-so-famous Cordero ended his remarks by saying, "I did what had to be done."

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

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