NEWARK — Mayor Cory Booker has repeatedly claimed he saved his neighbor from a fire in 2012, but two of the neighbor’s longtime friends say Booker’s story is not possible and the neighbor — a woman with an extensive criminal record — is not to be believed.
Zina Hodge was allegedly rescued from a kitchen fire by Mayor Booker in April 2012. The story received international media attention, with the New York Times, CBS, ABC, Oprah, and the New Jersey media among many others, providing extensive coverage of the “superhero” mayor.
In Booker’s telling of the story, he entered the burning building next to his own property, after breaking the restraints of a police detective, in order to rescue Hodge. He claims he threw Hodge over his shoulder and carried her to safety while sustaining second-degree burns on his hand. He later appeared on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” to tell the legendary hostess that he had a “come to Jesus moment” in which he felt he might not survive.
According to neighbors and community activists Donna Jackson and Cassandra Dock, the entire story is a fabrication.
“I don’t believe he went in there,” Dock told The Daily Caller. I don’t believe he saved her. I don’t believe he put her over his back and brought her out. First of all, the hallway is too narrow for both of them to fit through that hallway so I don’t believe none of that.”
Dock told The Daily Caller Hodge reacted by “laughing” when Dock confronted her about the holes in her story.
“Laughing every time when we had the conversation about the fire and how it happened she just chuckled, which leads me to believe that none of it is true,” Dock said. “I said to her ‘Zina do not go on Oprah and allow him to continue with this lie.’”
While Booker claims he was coming home and saw the fire, his own security detail, Detective Alex Rodriguez, contradicts his version of events.
In an interview on CBS, Gayle King asked Rodriguez what he was doing there, and Rodriguez said he was “waiting for the mayor.” When asked if many people had already left the building he said “yes.”
Rodriguez said that he noticed the building was on fire and started to alert residents, raising the question of why he was waiting for the mayor.