Kin of US tourist kidnapped in Uganda calls for her rescue
PHOENIX (AP) — A relative of a California woman kidnapped while on a safari in Uganda said Friday he wants to see the U.S. send in Navy SEALS to locate and rescue her if that’s what it takes.
Phoenix resident Rich Endicott said Friday he hasn’t spoken with his cousin since a family reunion several years ago, but he is working every angle to try to see she is rescued. The woman from Costa Mesa, California, has a small skin care shop, is in her late 50s and has a daughter and granddaughter.
U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda, who represents Costa Mesa, said in a statement Friday that he has communicated with “people close to Kimberly’s family” and the State Department, which is working to get Endicott released.
The State Department said in a Friday statement that the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad is its highest priority. “Whenever a U.S. citizen is taken captive abroad, we work tirelessly - in partnership with local authorities - to secure their release and get them home safely,” the statement said.
Ugandan security forces launched a search for Kim Endicott and the local driver after they were abducted in a wildlife park on Tuesday. They were ambushed by four gunmen in Queen Elizabeth National Park, a protected area near the porous border with Congo, according to Ugandan police and a government spokesman.
Police identified the woman as 35 and misspelled her name as Kimbley Sue Endecott, but Rich Endicott said she is actually in her late 50s and everyone calls her Kim.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a Tuesday event for families of U.S. citizens held captive overseas that he understands some people want to do anything to get their loved ones back but paying ransom would just lead to more kidnappings.
“Please remember that any payment to a terrorist or a terrorist regime gives money so that they can seize more of our people,” Pompeo said. “Even a small payment to a group in, say, Africa can facilitate the killing or seizure of tens or even hundreds of others, including Americans or foreign nationals in that region.”
Rich Endicott, a 62-year-old banker, said he accepts that rationale.
“I heard our Secretary of State get on there and say we don’t pay ransom. OK, fine,” Endicott said. “Then get the Navy SEALS, get them on a plane and go save her. Don’t pay ransom, I’m good with that. But he didn’t say any of those things, and maybe they’re doing those things, but who knows.”
Endicott said his son is about to join the Navy, he just buried his Korean War veteran father-in-law, and he has paid taxes since he was 16.
“The family has done what’s been asked of them to do,” he said. “I think it’s the government’s time to help us.”