Hostage speaks out after barricade situation

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by Steve Bodinet

azfamily.com

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Updated Monday, May 27 at 8:54 AM

Map: 91st Ave. & Camelback

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PHOENIX , Ariz. -- Hours after an Amber Alert ended in a dramatic hostage situation in West Phoenix, the hostages were rescued and the suspect took his own life.

On Tuesday's Good Evening Arizona, Steve Bodinet talked to the homeowner who found herself at the center of the terrifying ordeal.

It all began unfolding shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday, when SWAT teams surrounded a home near 91st Avenue and Camelback. That's where an ex-con had barricaded himself inside, took hostages, and held police at bay for 12 hours.

The suspect, 32 year old Israel Celis Sr., eventually shot himself and died.

Homeowner Sabrina Barrios is now talking about the nightmare she suffered at the hands of Celis. "He had a gun," Sabrina tells 3TV. "He wasn't allowing any of us to leave, and finally I got fed up and I was going to walk out of the house regardless."

SWAT teams eventually rammed the house with an armored vehicle. They were able to bring all of the hostages out safely.

"I'm glad everyone got out safe, except for him," says Sabrina. "He said he wasn't coming out anyway. He wasn't going back to prison. I'm not really happy that he took his life at my house or that all this occurred at my house but I'm glad that everybody came out okay."

The home itself did not fare as well. Aerial video from the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper showed the aftermath of the damage done by the armored vehicle. Two large holes and quite a bit of rubble were clearly visible in the decimated front walls of the house.

Barrios says she's been told that insurance will not cover the damage to her home, and she and her family will have to go stay with relatives for now.

All of this started with an Amber Alert that was issued just before 10 p.m. Monday.

Investigators say Celis was armed with a gun when he allegedly broke into his ex-wife's home and sexually assaulted her before tying her up with duct tape and taking their young son, Israel Celis Jr.

Police say Celis took his little boy to a West Phoenix home in the neighborhood 91st Avenue and Camelback Road. He had two other children, his 13-year-old and an 8-year old who is not his, with him, police said.

Celis holed up in that house all night. He kept the kids with him for hours, eventually releasing two of them.

Investigators said Celis, 32, and his wife are going through a divorce. Court paperwork showed that his wife filed for divorce this past spring. There was a hearing dealing with child custody in Family Court late last week.

Detectives initially believed Celis might have been taking his kids to Mexico, but he went to a friend's home in West Phoenix. Police and SWAT converged on the home and spent hours trying to talk Celis into surrendering.

Investigators are not sure what prompted Celis, who has a criminal record, to take his son Monday night.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Celis served a little more than six years in prison on aggravated assault and endangerment charges in connection with a drive-by shooting in August 1999. He was admitted to prison in January 2001 and released under supervision on March 12, 2007. That supervision ended in June 2008.

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