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Soccer coach tackles child-kidnap suspect in Santa Ana

October 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Santa Ana police officers arrested a man suspected of trying to kidnap a boy who was on his way to soccer practice with his cousin Thursday.

Police received a report of an attempted kidnapping at Delhi Park at 505 E. Central Avenue in Santa Ana at 7:23 p.m.

A 10-year-old boy was walking to soccer practice with his 19-year-old female cousin when they were approached by 55-year-old Santa Ana resident Victor Joseph Espinoza. The pair did not know the suspect.

Espinoza allegedly lured the boy close enough to grab him. The boy yelled for help, but the suspect would not let him go. The boy broke free and ran with his cousin to the park and told the boy's soccer coach what had happened.

"The little boy cam crying at me, saying that man wanted to take him," the coach said. "He said that he grabbed him and he started smelling him."

The coach searched for the suspect and confronted him.

"He goes, 'Oh, I'm leaving, I'm leaving,' and I said, 'No, you're not leaving, we're going to wait for the cops. Because you did something wrong to that little boy.' He tried to leave and that's when I tackled him down. I'm a parent, I worry about my kids, and I thought that I had to do something."

Espinoza attempted to flee, according to police, and was tackled by the coach in the street. The coach attempted to detain the 425-pound man but was unable to hold him.

Espinoza was located by police helicopter hiding nearby in the back yard of a residence on the 500 block of Central. Infrared video captured Espinoza hiding under a tree moments before his arrest.

Robert Ramos has known Espinoza for years and saw him before the alleged kidnapping attempt.

"I don't know what was going through his mind at the time, and like I said, I feel bad for that little kid. I hope he's OK," Ramos said.

Espinoza is being held on $100,000 bail on charges including false imprisonment and child annoyance. Espinoza was a documented gang member, according to police.


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