Neighbor Asks Elderly Couple To Borrow Salt, Holds Them Hostage

Some news stories can really impact your perception of humanity, making you question why you ever even bother to leave the house. This particular story might make you wonder why you'd ever let anyone in the house, either.

A couple in Florida were sitting out on their back porch, relaxing in the sunny summer day, when the neighbor's adult son approached them. He asked if he could borrow a cup of salt for a recipe he was cooking, and the elderly couple were happy to oblige.

They invited him inside while they went to get the salt. As soon as they got inside their home, though, things took an ugly turn.

Leonard Benitez, 45, held his two elderly neighbors in Tamarac, Florida hostage in their own home and demanded money from them. Benitez tricked Louis and Irene Rosen to bring him into the home when he asked to borrow salt, but when the three got inside, Benitez pulled out a gun and a knife.

The alleged thief demanded that the couple provide him with their banking information. He wanted to withdraw $50,000 from their account, he told them. The two elderly people were both terrified.

The couple said they feared for their lives.

“I was scared to death,” 70-year-old Irene said to WPLG.

"It was a harrowing experience," said Mr. Rosen to ABC 10 News.

At one point, Benitez pistol-whipped 99-year-old Mr. Rosen on the head. When Irene finally saw she had a chance to escape, she took it and ran to a neighbor’s house. She called 911, but the nightmare wasn’t over yet.

She was ‘frantic’ because she had left her injured husband behind with Benitez, but at the time she saw it as her only chance to get help for both of them.

Thankfully, she did get help before there were any further injuries. Police arrived quickly.

Benitez fled the home at the sight of authorities and went to a relative's house. Soon after, police had tracked him down and approached the house. A SWAT team surrounded the home when Benitez refused to leave, but eventually he surrendered.

Benitez, who was staying with his relatives in the area, was arrested and charged with home invasion, battery, false imprisonment, kidnapping and terrorizing people. He's currently being held in jail without bond. If convicted, Benitez could face a life sentence.

Mr. Rosen was treated at North Broward Hospital for cuts on the back of his head, and had to have staples put in where he was hit. He was released and is expected to be okay.

"I am not a gun person," Irene said, visibly shaken just remembering the horrific experience. "I've never been around guns."

The Rosens were terrified by the ordeal, but they’re obviously resilient people with a good attitude. They’re just focusing on the positive.

Mrs. Rosen is trying to have a good attitude about the traumatizing event. “I try to think of the positive and say, ‘What an adventure we had,’ an adventure I could have done without,” she noted.

It may be a long time before they ever let a near stranger into the house again—or, more likely, never.

Source: New York Post, Daily Mail
Photos: WPLG, Pixabay, Broward Sheriff's Office, ABC10

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