Father Punches Man who Grabbed His Toddler at Auburn Park

AUBURN -- A man was hospitalized and arrested Saturday after he grabbed a 3-year-old at an Auburn park and was punched in the face by the girl's father.

Witnesses who were at North Auburn Regional Park around 7 p.m. told deputies Yonel Hernandez-Velasco, 26, was acting strangely.

A group of boys said Hernandez-Velasco tried twice to buy their basketball. According to the Placer County Sheriff's Office, when they rejected him he showed them a pair of handcuffs and threatened to drag one of them into a nearby pond.

Cecilia Sole was playing with her two daughters when the boys told Hernandez-Velasco to go away. That's when Sole says he walked over to her youngest.

“He interlaces his fingers with my 3-year-old and starts trying to make a game out of it. Like skipping with her," Sole told FOX40.

But she says it was no game when Hernandez-Velasco started dragging the little girl away. She chased after them while calling the girls' father, who happens to live right nearby the park.

Hernadez-Velasco let the girl go but the bizarre incident was far from over.

"He just looked at me like [shrugs] and I was like, ‘Wow no big thing, huh bud? You just tried to kidnap my daughter,'" said Fred Cantrell Jr., the toddler's father.

Auburn Police say at that point Hernandez-Velasco took out the pair of handcuffs, wrapped them around his fist and took a swing at the toddler's father. Cantrell said he punched back, fists flew and Hernandez-Velasco collapsed to the ground.

The threat was over but not for the little girl, who called out for her father later that night, unable to sleep.

“She gave me a kiss, she was all, 'I love you, daddy.' I was like, 'I love you too, baby.' Then she’s like, 'Don’t ever let me go.' That right there crushed my heart,” Cantrell said.

Hernandez-Velasco was hospitalized then booked into the Auburn Jail upon his release. He has been charged on suspicion of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted kidnapping and his bail is set at $1.2 million.