Exclusive interview with front desk clerk who witnessed kidnapping
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – We have an exclusive interview with a man who witnessed the terrifying kidnapping of a woman, right in front of him.
That man was working behind the front desk at the Microtel Inn in Henrietta last Friday. While he called 911 about the crime, we’ve heard from many of you who have asked if the worker could have done more to help.
The clerk says he has gotten so much backlash after security video was released showing what happened. He does not want to be identified on camera.
However, he wanted to respond to the criticism he’s faced. He says he did the best he could in the moment to help capture the suspects.
Marsha: “A lot of people are saying you are standing behind the desk sort of just shoving papers left to right not really doing anything.”
Microtel front desk clerk: “I think it’s hard to know how you would react to this situation unless you are in it. I didn’t want to get involved and make things worse. Escalate the situation for myself and the victim. ‘Cause I don’t know if they had weapons.”
The clerk has spent the last eight months working at the Microtel Inn and during that time, he says he’s dealt with some rude customers and couples yelling at each other. The morning of July 5 was different, when a women approached the front desk.
“She was nervous and didn’t want to leave with the people she was with. I’ve never seen something like this happen at work! So, I didn’t really know how to react other than to call police,” he said.
According to Monroe County deputies, early that morning, a woman left a room at the Microtel to try to get help at the front desk. She was a victim of sex trafficking. She tried to talk to the front desk worker before the first suspect, identified by police as Shuntiayana Sims, grabs the victim and drags her through the lobby. The victim desperately tries to hold on to whatever she can. Then a man, identified by police as Cordell Brooks, comes in from the parking lot and grabs the victim before carrying her out.
“I was shocked at what was happening! I didn’t really know what to do. I tried to grab the woman at first,” the clerk said.
However, he did what he believed was best.
“I called the police. I went in the back office, and I grabbed the license plate number off their car,” he said.
And deputies say the clerk did the right thing and was an excellent witness. Investigators later stopped a car in Rochester with Sims, Brooks, and the victim and rushed the victim to the hospital for treatment for her injuries.
The clerk says it’s hard to know how you would react until you are in the situation.
“It’s easy to see it from your computer chair in your living room and see it and say ‘I would have done this; I would’ve done that!’ But when it’s happening in front of you, it’s a lot different,” he said.
Marsha: “Do you have any regrets that you should’ve done anything differently?”
Microtel front desk clerk: “I feel bad that I couldn’t do more in the moment. Like running back through my head, I think if I would’ve tried to intervene physically with the person or get involved personally, it would’ve made it harder to eventually catch the people.”
Both suspects remain in the Monroe County Jail on kidnapping and assault charges. Meanwhile, the victim, who is from out of state, has been released from the hospital and getting support from advocates.