Good Samaritans detain man suspected in Whittier kidnapping attempt
A group of good Samaritans chased down a registered sex offender accused of grabbing an 18-year-old woman in an attempted kidnapping and detained him until Whittier police arrived.
David Polanco, 41, was booked on suspicion of kidnapping and held in Los Angeles County jail on $100,050 bail, Whittier police said.
Authorities said the 18-year-old woman "willingly spent a number of hours" walking with Polanco around Whittier after meeting him Wednesday. At some point, Polanco allegedly "grabbed her around the waist from behind and attempted to pull her away while walking in an alley," police said.
Witnesses saw the two struggling and called 911, police said, prompting Polanco to flee.
A group of men sitting at a nearby cafe told KTLA they took off after the man.
"I yelled to him, 'Stop!' and I figured he'd stop if he was innocent," Terry Kuwahara told the television station. "But he didn't. He took off."
"So I went after him," Kuwahara continued. "I just grabbed him by the back of his shirt and jerked him down."
Two other men helped Kuwahara.
"We followed him around the corner and Terry had him down," an unidentified man told KTLA. "We ... held him down and waited for police."
Police said it was too soon to tell whether Polanco was involved in a series of recent kidnapping attempts in Whittier, but asked anyone who might have had "suspicious contact" with him to contact police.
On Tuesday, a 12-year-old boy told investigators he was playing in Parnell Park with his brothers when a man put his hand over his mouth and "told him not to make any noises" as he tried to pull him off a swing set, police said. The boy was able to make a noise that got the attention of his brothers, who helped fight off the suspect. The man ran off, police said.
In February, an 11-year-old girl told police she was walking alone near Founders Park when someone grabbed her and put her in the back of a car. She said another girl, about 7 years old, was crying in the back seat. The girls were able to escape the car, police said, and the 11-year-old ran home and called police.
Whittier police said that incident was believed to be connected to two others on Feb. 5. In the first, a 17-year-old woman told police she was walking in the 13000 block of Broadway when a man pulled his car over and asked whether she wanted a ride. She told him no, police said, but the man stopped the vehicle and opened the door. The teen ran and called police.
Later that day, a witness reported seeing two high school-aged girls in a "verbal confrontation" with a man who told them to get into his car near Central Park, police said. The suspect fled.
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call detectives at (562) 567-9270.
— Kate Mather