Neighbors, friends speak about captured South Fla. journalist

Steven Sotloff captured at Syria-Turkey border in 2013

By Liane Morejon - Reporter

MIAMI - Police are still camped outside the South Florida home of captured journalist Steven Sotloff, two days after his family learned their son was next in line to be executed by the terrorist group ISIS.

"I can only imagine their fear," said Jorge Garcia, who lives near the Sotloff family in Pinecrest. "I think it's very justified and it makes me very uncomfortable."

Garcia, who is an Army veteran, told Local 10 News he feels for the family that lives just a few houses down. Sotloff has been held captive by ISIS militants since August 2013, and the attention over the past two days has turned a once-quiet neighborhood upside down.

"I saw the trucks and cameras and wondered what was going on, and I was mortified -- very scary," said Garcia.

Scary when you consider those same militants killed journalist James Foley on camera, and declared Sotloff would be next. Local lawmakers on either side of the aisle told Local 10 News they've been in touch with the Sotloff family.

"The State Department and FBI -- all agencies have been in touch with the family," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican. "They have kept them abreast of any information that they have."

"Given that it's so close to home for us -- it makes it that much tougher for those of us in the community," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat.

And the situation is even tougher for those who know Sotloff well, like his former roommate at the University of Central Florida.

"We were all taken back when he talked about going to the Middle East, so it's very hard for those of us who know him," said Emerson Lotzia. "I'm very scared right now, as is everyone else who knows Steve and we just want to do whatever we can to help."

Sotloff's family members have not made any public statements regarding their son at this time.

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