Hero recounts saving children, 4 and 1 month, from raging father's attack

Posted: November 22, 2013

DARRYLL MARTIN took some NyQuil for his cold and was about to climb into bed about 10 o'clock Wednesday night when his mother's frantic screams tore through the family's Frankford home, setting him on a course to become a hero.

Martin, 33, raced downstairs.

Dennis "Bam" Hill, a raging, 6-foot-3, 300-plus-pound family friend visiting from New York, had a viselike grip on his own two daughters, ages 1 month and 4 years, and a fistful of sharp kitchen utensils.

"He has the two kids gripped up, and the fork and the knife like this," Martin recounted yesterday, making a fist. "He kept saying, 'I'm gonna effin' kill these kids.' "

Despite Hill's Hulk-like size and apparent drug-induced psychosis, Martin intervened, begging the rampaging man to let go of the baby and little girl, whose tiny neck was nearly being crushed in one of Hill's gargantuan mitts.

"I pleaded with him, but it seemed like the more we talked, the angrier he got," said Martin, who has five kids of his own. "He was grabbing and swinging the baby. . . . He had a real tight grip on both of them."

But Hill was unyielding in his tantrum. Police said he is believed to have been under the influence of the drug PCP, known for inducing psychosis and giving users superhuman strength.

As Martin's mother called police to the house, on Sellers Street near Oakland, Martin ran outside to his car to retrieve a baseball bat he uses for pickup games.

"I begged, 'I don't wanna do this, man,' " Martin said. "Then I seen him trying to stab [the little girl], and I hit him."

By then, Martin said, he had managed to separate the infant from the madman and place her safely into the arms of another adult, but Hill's powerful grip still ringed his 4-year-old daughter's neck. Martin said Hill then dragged the terrified little girl, helpless as a rag doll, outside and into the street on the quiet block. Martin followed, baseball bat in hand.

"I'm like, 'Bam, please.' But he gripped the girl real tight, and he had the knives in the other hand," he continued."He took the [little girl] by the hair and was smashing her head against the car. I hit him with the bat. Boom. I started punching him in the face."

Finally, Hill dropped the girl and Martin wrestled the huge man to the ground just as police arrived. Police then had to use a stun gun to shock Hill a few times before they were able to handcuff him.

"He was still fighting," said Martin, who yesterday took the day off from his job making steel bars for construction projects so he could recuperate. He was not injured, but said he was sore from wrestling Hill and feeling ill from the cold.

Martin spoke softly yesterday afternoon as he recounted the horrific encounter in his family's tidy living room. He said he didn't want to hurt Hill, but that he had no choice.

"The only thing I thought about was the children," he said.

Hill, who lives in Staten Island, N.Y., was charged yesterday with attempted murder, aggravated assault, child endangerment, terroristic threats and a slew of related offenses. A judge set his bail at $100,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 10.

The man has been arrested for assault before in New York, a police source said yesterday.

Martin said Hill's kids were still at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and that the 4-year-old's mother was coming to retrieve her daughter. Both were in good condition, Martin said.

The man's relatives hailed him a hero, saying he saved the little girl's life.

"God gave him the strength to do that, 'cause he wasn't letting that little girl go," said Martin's mother, who identified herself only as Anna.

Martin's sister, who asked that her name not be published, added, "God was with my brother, 'cause Bam is big."

Martin humbly shunned praise yesterday, smiling shyly.

"It's just natural instincts," he said. "I had to do whatever I could do to save those kids."

Twitter: @morganzalot

Blog: PhillyConfidential.com