PASADENA (CBS) — Three dozen kids and some parents held a rally Saturday in support of Kelvin McFarland, founder of the Family 1st Growth Camp.
McFarland goes by the nickname “Sarge.”
The rally was held outside a police station in Pasadena to protest the arrest of the 41-year-old youth boot camp instructor and former Marine on serious charges, including kidnapping, extortion, unlawful use of a badge and false imprisonment.
CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen was at the rally and spoke to supporters and former camp members. One girl, Fabiola Serna, 16, said she used to get high and ditch class until she got with the program.
The camp works with at-risk youth in the San Gabriel Valley and gets kids to turn their lives around.
Last month, McFarland, a Monrovia man, was arrested after officials say he spotted a 14-year-old girl downtown cutting school. Pasadena police say he approached the girl, insinuated he was a police officer and handcuffed the girl.
In addition, police say McFarland then demanded money from the parents to provide his boot camp/after school services.
McFarland’s defense attorney, Pasadena’s former Mayor Bill Paparian, told Nguyen the police have it all wrong.
McFarland was able to thank his many supporters, by county jail phone. Police believe may have committed similar crimes in the past. They are urging anyone with information to contact them at (626) 744-4241.
Still, his fans, like Serna, remain steadfast in their support. “I’m here to support him because I know if I was in a situation like this he’d be the first one here for me.”
McFarland has a preliminary hearing set for Monday.