PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — AMR paramedics Brian Henrichs and Trevin Sundbaum were headed south on NW 23rd in an ambulance when they noticed a car stopped in the street at Lovejoy.
There was a confrontation, so they stopped, turned on their lights and got out of the ambulance.
“Immediately, I think both of us were on the radio asking for police,” Henrichs told KOIN 6 News. “There was a lady holding a child who was crying, there was a guy to our right that seemed pretty agitated. He was sweating, kind of red in the face.”
Henrichs and Sundbaum interrupted an attempted kidnapping of Beth’s 2-year-old son. (KOIN 6 News is not using her last name.) The agitated man, Matthew Lee Edwards, was later arrested and faces felony charges.
Edwards, 23, was yelling that the boy was actually his sister’s child.
Beth insisted the child was hers, “and he was, like, right in my face,” she told KOIN 6 News.
She got knocked over. “It was all really visceral from then on,” she said. “I was yelling for help.”
Her son, she said, “was so scared. I’ve never seen him cry like that before. True fear.”
Henrichs said another woman appeared “holding an umbrella, like in a defensive stance. She said, ‘You’re not taking that kid!’ and she threatened to do harm (to Edwards) with the umbrella.”
At first people nearby just stared, Beth said.
“I was just yelling, ‘We need help! Somebody call 911’ over and over,” she said. “At first people were standing around the perimeter, like 15 yards away, just looking.”
She believes they thought it was a domestic dispute and didn’t want to get involved.
“You know, people can always turn down your help if they don’t need it,” she said.
Friday, Beth and the paramedics met and she expressed how grateful she was for their immediate help because she couldn’t call 911.
“I was holding on to my son for dear life.”
Beth, a nurse at a local hospital, said she’s not angry at the suspect and has empathy for him. She hopes he’ll get the help he needs.
“I’m happy that he’s in jail so he can’t hurt somebody else,” she said. “You know I really don’t feel apprehensive about going out.”
She also said she doesn’t want families to be afraid.
“It’s important for me for people to know that it’s safe here,” Beth said.
She brought some homemade bread to Henrichs and Sundbaum to thank them. They smiled when she said, “I hope my smushed bread is good. I smushed it a little, I’m sorry.”
Beth thanked everyone else, too.
“I’m just so grateful to the people who did stop to help and were so kind to us. That really made a huge difference.”