COOLIDGE, AZ — “They held me by my arms, and I started wrestling them. I said ‘Stop, please don’t hurt me,'” said Rosalina Lopez-Alvarez.
Lopez-Alvarez says the terrifying encounter with the two Florence prison escapees felt like a nightmare. She couldn't believe she was fighting the same inmates she had seen on the news.
“I felt my life was in so much danger, so much danger,” expressed Lopez-Alvarez.
She says one of them crawled through the doggy door and managed to open the door while she was in her bedroom. Her dog alerted her and in a matter of seconds, she found herself alone with two convicts inside her home.
Lopez-Alvarez says the men demanded money, a car and began punching her.
“I was shaking like you have no idea.”
She says she saw her life flashing before her eyes. Her first reflection, to try to trick them and escape.
“I told him to stop, and I will give them a car. They let me go and I pretended I was going to get the car keys,” said Lopez-Alvarez.
She says she immediately tried to run at her husband who was working a few yards away.
“I ran toward that direction, that’s where one of them pulled me by my hair and started dragging me back.”
Lopez-Alvarez says she knew right there she had to defend herself again.
“I grabbed his private parts and I yelled to let me go, but he threw me to the other inmate.”
She says she was dragged back into the house while screaming desperately for her husband.
“I heard a scream around 9 a.m., I have never heard my wife never scream like that before,” said Luis Alvarez.
Alvarez says he drove back to the house, tried to open the door, but it was locked. As he looked through the window, he said he saw the two convicts holding his wife.
“I felt so much fear and anger.”
He also tried to trick them and show them the car keys through the window to make them go outside.
“That’s when he opened the door, I then grabbed him and threw him,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez says he struggled first with inmate David Harmon by hitting him with a pipe.
“I hit him in the stomach, he got on his knees, then I hit him in the head.”
As they fought, Alvarez says, inmate John Charpio was attempting to hotwire the family’s car but failed to do so.
“That’s when he came to me with a shovel trying to hit me in the head. He was swinging so hard like wanting to kill me,” described Alvarez.
Alvarez is 60 years old and even he was surprised that the two men couldn’t hurt him. He says he’s glad they couldn’t get the car keys.
“They had no option, but to run away to the field, I never let them go free, I stopped them.”
He says he chased them and held them down until he saw police surrounding the area. However, their story went overlooked for a couple of days after the inmates were captured.
“No one mentioned us when the news broke when we were the victims,” expressed Alvarez.
There were multiple calls to 911 that day. A man driving by reporting seeing the inmates from a distance. Another call in Spanish from Alvarez, a woman identifying herself as a family friend and the couple’s daughter.
So, who gets the reward? The fact is, figuring out who gets the money and how much may get complicated.
“The bravery of this family and them not giving up the car keys is what stopped the inmates from running away,” stated Jose Guzman, director of a nonprofit for victims of crime, called Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen.
Guzman is representing the family and says they deserve the money and he’ll fight for any type of protection for them.
“The reward must go to them. We already started the process for therapy, for a U-visa too and we’re in contact with the sheriff.”
For this family of farmworkers, the money, they say, would be appreciated. But their biggest worry right now is making sure they can move forward from their biggest nightmare.
“I see them on TV, and I feel like they’re coming out after me. I can’t stay home alone. I have it here in my head day and night. No one deserves to go through what I went through,” expressed Lopez-Alvarez.