Lake Elsinore, CA – Alert parents stopped a sex offender who tried to kidnap two children from a park on Monday, and then held him on the ground until police arrived.
The incident occurred at about 11:30 a.m. on March 11 when 29-year-old Marcus Dewitt tried to grab a three-year-old boy by the arm at Rosetta Canyon Sports Park at about 11:30 a.m., according to KABC.
The toddler was playing on a piece of playground equipment and Dewitt wasn’t able to reach him, so he quickly adjusted his target and went after a four-year-old nearby.
Dewitt picked up the little boy and ran, KABC reported.
Fortunately, his attentive parents were nearby and saw what happened.
The parents chased Dewitt down and wrestled the boy away from him, as other family members arrived to help, according to KABC.
When Dewitt tried to flee, a family member caught him and put him on the ground.
“The victim’s parents and other family members saw the abduction, were able to catch DeWitt and wrestle the boy away from him,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “DeWitt attempted to leave the area, but was subdued by a member of the boy’s family.”
Other parents in the park witnessed the incident unfolding with horror.
“It was very brazen for him to just come up and try and snatch a kid with all the parents around,” eyewitness Keli Wilcher told KABC. “It makes me nervous as a parent.”
Vanessa Mongrut said it was the child’s mother who “snatched the boy back from the kidnapper.”
“The little boy is fine,” Vanessa Mongrut, who witnessed the near-abduction, wrote on Facebook, according to Newsweek.
Family members of the children surrounded Dewitt and kept him on the ground until police arrived.
There was also an off-duty police officer in the park when the attempted kidnappings occurred, Newsweek reported.
Police arrested Dewitt booked him into the Cois Byrd Detention Center on kidnapping charges.
He was being held at the jail in lieu of a $1 million bail, The Daily Mail reported.
Dewitt was already a registered sex offender from a previous charge of indecent exposure.
His parents told KTTV that their son suffers from schizophrenia due to drug use as a teenager.
“I don’t want to make excuses for our son by any means,” his father said. “I feel for the family, my wife and I honestly will pray for the family and for the children, for their recovery [and] that no memory of this will be in theirs.”