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S P E C I A L Cunanan Coverage

Cunanan tip-off hero wants reward; police waver

Carreira July 25, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT)

MIAMI BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- Fernando Carreira, the Portuguese houseboat caretaker whose tip-off led police to Andrew Cunanan, may not be eligible for the $45,000 reward for the arrest of the suspected multiple killer, police said Thursday.

But Carreira, 71, thinks he deserves the money. "I didn't know who it is but I caught him. If it isn't because of me they didn't get him," Carreira told CNN affiliate WSVN.

"Besides that I saved a lot of money for the government. If he was alive, he have to go the court, it costs a lot of money. I saved a lot of money."

Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto told a news conference earlier Thursday the caretaker's actions did not seem to correspond to terms of various rewards offered for catching Cunanan, accused of the July 15 slaying of Gianni Versace and four other men.

'If he was alive, he have to go the court, it costs a lot of money. I saved a lot of money.'

— Fernando Carreira

"It is not my understanding that the caretaker provided information specifically with the intent of telling us where Mr. Cunanan was," he said.

The FBI offered $10,000 to anyone who provided "information leading to the apprehension of Cunanan," one of their 10 Most Wanted fugitives.

Various Miami and Florida authorities and organizations pitched in the other $35,000.

WSVN asked viewers to phone in and vote on whether he should get the reward. The response: 97 percent of more than 6,000 callers said he should.

'Ran like hell'

Carreira said he believed Cunanan had not been in the boathouse for more than three or four days before he was cornered.

He checked the dwelling on Saturday and found everything in order. On Wednesday afternoon, though, he saw that one of the door locks was open. He went inside with his wife Lucy and saw signs that someone was sleeping there, including a pair of sandals on the floor.

"I thought it was some bum; I didn't know who it was," Carreira said told WSVN.

He said he drew his gun, then heard a shot from the upper level where Cunanan was later found dead. "I heard a boom and ran like hell. I thought the shot was for me," he said.

'I though it was some bum. I didn't know who it was.'

— Carreira

He and his wife hid in the bushes outside and called 911 on his cellular phone but the call didn't go through. Carreira called his son and told him to report the break-in to police.

Although Carreira said he did not see Cunanan, he believed the fugitive saw him and thought: "This is the police, I better shoot myself."

"I don't know if I look like police," he added with a smile.

Only as police rushed to the scene did he think: "Maybe it's that Cunanan guy."

Barreto said a decision on the reward money, which has been offered by groups including the FBI and various Miami and Florida law enforcement agencies, would be forthcoming.

"I will have a great deal to do with that decision, but I will make it in concert with other officials," Barreto said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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