Neighbor's request for cup of salt turns into hostage situation

Gunman told 99-year-old neighbor he wanted $50,000

TAMARAC, Fla. – Louis and Irene Rosen were happy to help their neighbor's son, Leonard Benitez, when he asked to borrow a cup of salt. They welcomed him inside, but he had other plans. 

Benitez, 45, threatened them with a gun and a knife. He told them what he really wanted was $50,000 and ordered them to give him their banking information. 

"I was scared to death," Irene Rosen said.

Louis Rosen said he was worried about his wife.

Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Gina Carter said Benitez struck Louis Rosen, 99, in the head with his gun. But Benitez wasn't counting on Irene Rosen's bravery. She managed to call 911 and escaped when BSO deputies arrived at their Tamarac home Friday afternoon.

"I am not a gun person," Irene Rosen said. "I've never been around guns."

BSO's SWAT team surrounded the home at 7104 NW 70th St., near the Woodmont Country Club. After holding Louis Rosen hostage for about two hours, Benitez surrendered.

Louis Rosen was taken to North Broward Health, where he was treated for the lacerations he suffered when Benitez hit him in the head with the gun. 

Benitez was in jail Saturday. 

He was arrested on charges that include home invasion, battery, false imprisonment of an adult and kidnapping. He is being held without bond. 

"I try to think of the positive and say, 'What an adventure we had,' an adventure I could have done without," Irene Rosen said.

Correction: Authorities reported Benitez requested a cup of sugar, but victims said Benitez requested a cup of salt. 

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.