What happened the night of the Watergate break-in: Part 3

Former police officers John Barrett and Paul Leeper recalled what happened when they found and arrested the burglars.
6:19 | 06/17/17

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for What happened the night of the Watergate break-in: Part 3
There were a lot of street muggings, lot of armed robberies. I was a sergeant assigned to the, people on the street called us the bum squad. What I looked like in 1972 was like a junior Charles Manson. Georgetown, Friday night going into Saturday is always crazy back then. Reporter: On June 17th, 1972, there was break-in at the democratic national committee's headquarters in the watergate office complex. This was the start of what would be the political crime of the century. I was called in by Jeb Stuart Magruder to his office, and he said, "Can you get into the watergate office building? We want you to put in a room monitoring device I took. A dangerous gamble and risk, I recruited Mr. James Mccord, who was the security chief of the committee to re-elect the president. The plan was to get negative information about the potential nominee of the democratic party. Well, how are you gonna get the negative information? A lot of people would say breaking into the democratic national committee was way out, off the charts, yes, but not that far out. Entry night was to be Friday night, June 16th. There was a man working in the back very, very late. I mean, he stayed and he stayed and he stayed. It was a Friday night, I mean, this was some dedicated Democrat. We thought he'd never go home. Mccord would go into the watergate building and put in tapes in the door. It was taped so it would not lock. Reporter: The hero of that night was a man named frank wills. Frank wills was the security guard at the watergate office building. I was just on guard and I was doing my duty. You found the door taped once, and you took the tape off. And then you found it taped a second time. It was something that told me that you should check, not only check the door, but you should call the police. About 1:52 in the morning, the call comes up for an alleged burglary at the watergate hotel. I just kinda blink my eyes, "Yeah, we'll take the call." And we were there in a minute, minute and a half. We approached the front door, 2600 Virginia avenue. We saw the guard in there, frank wills, sitting in here at the guard post. And -- walked up to this door, here, the front door. And I -- I took out my badge to make sure he could see us, and knew who we were. And I tapped it on the glass, like this, I said, "Police." I had an old funky golf cap, I think I had just like a t-shirt underneath trying to give me the image I wasn't a police officer. If a uniform car had answered that call, it coulda been a whole different ballgame. There's a lookout, Alfred Baldwin, who's supposed to warn the burglars if there's trouble. The police unit that responds to the call, they're not dressed like police officers. So Baldwin doesn't even notice them until they're upstairs. You've got a door down there, taped. We found the eighth floor tape, we found the sixth floor tape. Our adrenaline is pumped. Okay, this was the hallway door, we came into the democratic national committee. We get to this room here, I kick the door open. I pulled my revolver, the desk was all ransacked, and disheveled, and messed up. As it turns out, probably every room in the DNC was like this. And we found out later that they were always messed up. We were in contact by transceiver with our men inside the watergate and also with the lookout, Mr. Baldwin, across the street. He was watching a show called "Attack of the puppet people." And he was glued to the TV set. So by the time he -- they broke in and he looked back out, he saw lights coming on in the DNC. The actual reception room lights up, which I can see directly across from where I'm standing. And I know three individuals come into the reception area. By the time Alfred Baldwin had notified them, it was too late. And they had to run and hide like rats. We're rolling down this hallway, checking the offices on both sides of the hallways, lookin' in here, torn -- turning the lights on, make sure that nobody's hiding from behind us. What's running through my mind is, "If there's anybody here, they're here." I was startled by an arm hitting next to the glass on the partition. It scared the livin' bejeezus outta me. I screamed something to the effect, "Come out with your hands up, or I'm gonna blow your head off." And in a very soft whisper I heard a voice, "They've got us." Ten hands went up. And they came out, and that's where the arrest occurred, right here. And they see these three guys that don't look anything like police officers, with pointin' guns at 'em. They were wired. They were hyper. They just -- it didn't all add up. I don't think I've ever locked up -- another burglar that was dressed in a suit and tie and was in middle age. It didn't compute with them what was going on and who they had, except they knew we didn't belong there. Mccord said to me twice, he said, "Are you the police?" And I thought, "Why is he Askin' such a silly question? Of course we're the police. The five burglars that were arrested inside the DNC were Mccord, barker, Sturgis, Martinez and Gonzales. This was not your Normal typical burglary. There was bugging devices tear gas pens. Many, many rolls of film. Locksmith tools, thousands of dollars in hundred dollar bills, consecutively ordered. Who goes into the DNC looking for money, or looking for jewels or looking for something that an ordinary burglar would? No, you go in there looking for political information. And who wants that? Why, you're opponent, naturally.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":48095094,"title":"What happened the night of the Watergate break-in: Part 3","duration":"6:19","description":"Former police officers John Barrett and Paul Leeper recalled what happened when they found and arrested the burglars.","url":"/2020/video/happened-night-watergate-break-part-48095094","section":"2020","mediaType":"default"}