Former DC officers remember the night they responded to Watergate burglary – NBC4 Washington

Fifty years after the Watergate break-in that would lead to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, two DC police officers who arrested the five men who broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters recalled that night.

Paul Leeper was a sergeant and John Barrett had been a police officer for two years when, in late June 17, 1972, they received word of a possible break-in at the Watergate Officers’ Complex.

“My mind ran a mile a minute,” Leeper said.

“We had our weapons out then,” he said.

Barrett remembers walking through the dark office when he realized someone was hiding in a booth.

“It was about two inches from my face,” he said. β€œIt scared me to death. I said something along the lines of, ‘Get that motherfucker out! Hands up!'”

“I see John in a kind of crouching position with his gun pointed back to an area I can’t see, and I think John was shouting something like, ‘Hold it,'” Leeper said. “So I run to the next cubicle and jump on a desk.”

The two were surprised to find five suspects hiding in that booth.

β€œI was almost ready to squeeze a lap off when I said, ‘Never mind,’” said Barrett.

The tension didn’t stop there. As Barrett searched the men, one of the suspects reached into his pocket. A third officer, Carl Shoffler, stopped him.

Carl grabbed his coat, stuck his .38 down his neck and said, ‘Don’t go in there anymore. I’m going to shoot you,” Barrett said.

That night, Leeper and Barrett continue to chase after them. Leeper is candid about the lack of recognition they received from their own department.

“We have not received credit from our own department for what is probably the largest burglary case ever made by the Metropolitan Police Department,” Leeper said.

Both men are frustrated with the way their roles in history have been portrayed in books and movies

“They don’t care about the truth,” Barrett said.

“Everything is so wrong, yet people are buying this, and people are there as alleged experts telling all about how the break-in happened and what happened here, and they don’t know anything about it,” Leeper said. “They weren’t there.”

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