SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A boy’s soccer coach is credited Friday with helping police arrest a 420-pound suspect who allegedly tried to abduct a 10-year-old boy.
The suspect, Victor Joseph Espinoza, is a known gang member with a long rap sheet, according to authorities.
Stacey Butler, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to the boy’s coach.He wanted to remain anonymous and didn’t want to show his face on camera.
He says he heard the boy scream and ran to help. “He grabbed the boy by the arm and he was smelling him.”
The coach says he asked the suspect “Why he had to attack a child? And he said, ‘I’m going home.’ And I said, ‘Buddy, you aren’t going home. You’re waiting for the cops.'”
After a scuffle, Espinoza was able to escape from the coach. Police say it was the coach’s description that helped them find the suspect.
Espinoza was arrested after police located him by helicopter — 1,000 feet up — using infrared camera technology. had minor injuries from his contact with the soccer coach.
Parents told Butler the coach was very brave to confront and tackle the suspect.
Investigators said the 10-year-old was going to soccer practice with his 19-year-old female cousin.
The coach told Butler that the boy was a second child that Espinoza reportedly tried to grab. The first child, who also got away, was a female.
Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told Butler that the suspect tried to hide in a backyard. He showed Butler the infrared footage that showed the suspect “hiding behind some trees… obviously thinking he is concealing himself.”
Bertagna says the suspect was taken into custody without incident. Espinoza did have minor injuries sustained from his scuffle with the soccer coach.
“I’m sure the kid was absolutely terrified,” said Bertagna.
Espinoza was taken to the Orange County Jail and booked on charges of false imprisonment, child annoyance, and gang enhancements. He remains in jail on $100,000 bail.