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Police: OC Gang Member Tried To Grab Boy Going To Soccer Practice

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(CBS) Mike Landa
Mike Landa is KNX Newsradio's Orange County Bureau Chief. For more...
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soccer Police: OC Gang Member Tried To Grab Boy Going To Soccer Practice

SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A Santa Ana man on Friday faced false imprisonment and other charges for allegedly trying to kidnap a 10-year-old boy.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports police responded to a call shortly before 7:30 p.m. on Thursday from Delhi Park at 505 E. Central stating that a soccer coach was unsuccessfully attempting to detain 55-year-old suspect Victor Joseph Espinoza.

When officers arrived, the 425-pound Espinoza had escaped. He was located by helicopter shortly afterward hiding in a backyard on the 500 block of E. Central.

Espinoza – who police said is a documented gang member – was taken into custody without incident, but he had minor injuries from his contact with the soccer coach.

Investigators said the 10-year-old – who did not know the suspect – was going to soccer practice with his 19-year-old female cousin when Espinoza lured the victim close enough to grab him.

“He was grabbed by the suspect by both of his arms and he pulls him into his body area,” Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. “We believe that he was going to take the kid away.”

The boy yelled for help and tried to pull away, but Espinoza would not let him go. The victim was finally able to break free and he and his cousin ran to the park telling the soccer coach what had occurred.

After the coach located the suspect in front of the park, Espinoza attempted to flee and was tackled by the coach in the street before escaping and hiding in a residential backyard.

“In talking to the victim, he stated that he stayed in the yard where he saw him go because he was unable to get over the fence,” Bertagna said.

Espinoza was booked on charges of false imprisonment, child annoyance, and gang enhancements.

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