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.

Comments (9)
  1. Mary says:

    Sad – sad for everyone especially the kids who admired him 🙁

  2. He's probably guilty says:

    Hopefully all his supporters have been informed of ALL the FACTS and have then formed their opinions on this man’s charges. Even the seemingly normal, respected, and together of our neighbors and friends are real sociopaths… and we don’t even know it.

  3. Hes not guilty hes being acused of crimes he hasnt never thought of commiting the comunity and society is wrong its just one more example of how the world got “messed up”. 1st sgt mac has been there for all the cadets hes believed in us hes proud of us like he says ” i may not be proud of some of the decisions you (cadets) take , but i am sure proud of each and one of you(cadets)”

  4. lou says:

    has all the making of a and potential of a willie horton.

  5. papi says:

    the girls parents should be facing charges for being seriously stupid.i raised 5 kids and i always knew where they were,parents these days are soo lazy and soft.their kids control them instead..i would love to take her mom to book camp at my pad.:D

  6. Brendyn (cadet) says:

    Sgt. Mac does not know how much he has changed my life and is continuing to change it. He is an inspiration to me and he is my role model. I am thankful for this man because he has helped me in many ways. This man is innocent and should have never been in jail for what he did. He is wrongly accused and once he reads these comments, I hope he knows that practically everyone is for him and supports him for everything that he does. This man ever since I started this program has been there for me with everything that I have done. I have done many bad things and everything I did something he has been there. Thank you for his time and everything that he has done for this community.

  7. Naomi says:

    Kelvin McFarland AKA Sgt. Mac is an innocent man who had been worngly accused. He has helped so many children and their families to transform their lives. He always gives back ALL of his time to help individuals in need and stand there beside them, I would even trust him with my 8 year old daughter. He has also organized many community service events. Last year, he helped to serve over 4000 meals to the homeless and has also helped with ‘Toys for Tots’. Many local cities, schools and their principals, police, sheriffs, detectives have honored Sgt Mac for the oustanding work that he has done. He runs a Growth Camp for the entire family. Not a Boot Camp where you just drop off a toubled kid. Our community is a better place because of Sgt Mac and his hard work and dedication.

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