Venezuelan police thwart kidnapping attempt of Tigers' pitcher's family
The family of Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Brayan Villarreal was shaken, but unharmed after a robbery and kidnapping attempt in Villarreal's native Venezuela.
The incident occurred on Friday in San Diego, Valencia, about 110 miles from Caracas. According to Villarreal's agent, Hector Gomez, the incident ended in gunfire between police and the assailants.
"We spoke, and he's thankful to God that nothing happened," Gomez told FOXSports. "He had mixed feelings. He was angry. He was confused. He was sad. He was worried about his parents. But now he knows they are safe."
Gomez told ESPNdeportes that neighbors became concerned about some suspicious activity at Villarreal's home. The robbers had assaulted Villarreal's father and threatened to kill his mother and his little brother if they made any noise when officers arrived.
"The guys put a gun in the mouth of Brayan's father and his little 14-year-old brother, threatening that they would return and kidnap everybody if they said anything to the police. When the authorities reached the house to investigate if something was going on, they threatened everyone to not open the door," Gomez told ESPNdeportes.com.
Major League Baseball security and the Tigers were notified and Gomez said Villarreal's family has been relocated.
Villarreal who appeared in 50 games for the Tigers last year was not with the Tigers in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. for Sunday's exhibition game against Atlanta.
"He's OK now. I spent the night with him and his (other) brother, who is here (in Florida)," Gomez said. "We talked. He's doing much better now. I don't think it's going to affect him on the field. He knows his family's OK. Part of him wants to go down and solve the issue, but there's no use in him going down there -- other than to be a target."
Villarreal is not the first major leaguer to be targeted by kidnappers in Venezuela. Last year, Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped and held captive before being rescued.
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