CROSSROADS, Ala. (WALA) – The view from Bill Beasley’s little piece of paradise is breathtaking. From his home, he can see woods stretching over his 250 acres and can even spy the top of the RSA Tower in Mobile.
But there are downsides. Beasley said he has dealt with his share of meth labs and poachers on his property.
So when Beasley saw someone hiding behind a tree, he said, he figured it was someone illegally hunting.
“I saw the shadow,” he told FOX10 News, pointing to the spot where the encounter took place. “I’m talking about evil. And when I turned around and come back, I saw the head. But the whole time, I’m thinking it’s poachers.”
Instead, law enforcement authorities say, it was an inmate who had escaped from the Baldwin County Corrections Center. Law enforcement officials apprehended Jose Rosado-Ortiz, and a federal magistrate judge on Friday ordered him to be detained on an escape charge.
Authorities allege that Rosado-Ortiz escaped from the jail through a construction area. He had been awaiting transfer to federal prison to serve a 15-year sentence on a felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm conviction. In addition, Baldwin County prosecutors on Friday asked that his probation be revoked on a pair of burglary convictions.
After his escape, Rosado-Ortiz made his way to Beasley’s property, about five miles west of the jail.
Beasley said he was clearing underbrush at about 5 p.m. Thursday – ironically, so he can more easily see trespassers on his property. He said he was marking a tree that his wife does not want cut down when he caught site of something behind the brush.
His wife, Kitty Beasley, said she thought it might be a snake. Then she saw Rosado-Ortiz’s face.
“It was something eerie,” she said. “He slowly turned his head.”
Worried for his wife’s safety, Beasley said he drove the buggy they were riding in a short distance and then got out of the vehicle. It turns out Rosado-Ortiz was unarmed, but Beasley said at the time, he thought it was a poacher with a gun. He said the man said something about water and then crouched down.
“When I come back, I had my pistol out,” he said. “I said, ‘Come out of there.’ And when I did, he reached down. And when he did, I shot right above him.”
Beasley said the man grabbed a cooler and took off into the thickest part of the brush. Beasley pointed to the ground where the man left behind a ballcap he had been wearing and a bloody juice carton.
A 911 call brought five Baldwin County sheriff’s deputies and a tracking dog to the property. About six hours later, law enforcement officers finally found the escapee.
Beasley heaped praise on the work of the law enforcement officers who pursued the escapee through some nasty terrain.
Thursday was not even the first time Beasley has encountered an escaped prisoner. He said he and his employees at gas stations have thwarted five or six robberies over the years. About 25 years ago, he said, a man came into a gas station he owned in Creola. He said the hair on his neck stood up.
“He comes inside, and he has his hand under his shirt. And I felt like he had a pistol, so I have a pistol in my hand,” he said. “And we just looked at each other for what seemed like five minutes and then he took off outside.”
Beasley said he called the police, who apprehended the man within minutes. He said the police chief later told him the man had escaped from a prison in north Alabama and stolen a gun and a can. He ended up at Beasley’s gas station when the van ran out of gas.
As for Rosado-Ortiz, Beasley said it could have turned out worse. He said he thought man was an armed poacher.
“A lot of land owners have experienced this. It’s a dangerous situation when your grandkids, my grandkids are out here,” he said. “This was an escaped convict, but it’s dangerous when a poacher’s out here.”
Kitty Beasley said it was a frightening experience.
“It was. It really, really was,” she said. “It was not anything I ever want to go through again.”
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