WESTMINSTER, Calif. (KABC) --The independent taxi driver who was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint and held hostage for an entire week by three escaped Orange County inmates says he was forced to drive more than 3,000 miles, never knowing if he would live or die.
Long Hoang Ma said the harrowing ordeal began on a normal Friday night when he received a call from Bac Duong to pick him up from a restaurant in Santa Ana.
What unfolded was seven days of Ma being held captive and prisoner as the fugitives, Duong, 43, Hossein Nayeri, 37, and Jonathan Tieu, 20, used him and his Honda Civic to drive across Orange and Los Angeles counties and later San Jose.
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The 74-year-old says he'd advertise his transportation services in the classifieds section of Nguoi Viet, the oldest Vietnamese newspaper located in the Little Saigon area of Westminster, and that's how he believes Duong obtained his contact information.
After picking the men up on Jan. 22, Ma was held captive at gunpoint inside the Flamingo Inn in the 8600 block of Garvey Avenue in Rosemead.
Ma said he feared for his life because as they were about to leave the Rosemead motel he said, 'I want to go home now.'" At that point, Ma said Duong pointed a gun to his stomach and told him, 'We need you here. We need your favor.'"
He was then forced to drive over 400 miles to the Alameda Motel in San Jose, where he was held hostage as the men drank heavily and laughed gleefully as they watched television reports and news conferences held by the Orange County Sheriff's Department about the search with great pride.
Ma says he was very, very worried but was soon befriended by Duong, who began calling him "uncle."
"Whether I die or not, it depends on god, and I couldn't, I didn't react to anything at all," Ma said.
At one point, Duong and Nayeri, who appeared to be the mastermind and violent leader of the group, became involved in a physical fight. Duong later told Ma it was about whether he should be killed.
Ma said Nayeri made numerous threatening gestures toward him, indicating that he wanted to kill him.
"Boom old man. Boom old man. So that's what I heard, and then Bac Duong, you know, argued with him, they fighting, argue," Ma explained.
Duong left with Ma the next day as Nayeri and Tieu left the motel to have the windows of their stolen white GMC utility van tinted.
"Bac Duong said, 'No, we have to go. We have to go right now,'" Ma said. "From the bottom of my heart, I can say Bac Duong saved my life and I owe him. I'm so thankful, so grateful to him."
Nevertheless, Ma says when Duong told him, "Let's go. Let's go back to Southern California," he didn't believe he would be safe. That's until the very moment they arrived in Santa Ana and he dropped Duong off at an auto repair shop to turn himself in to authorities.