Father punches man he says tried to drag 3-year-old daughter out of park

AUBURN, Calif. – A father said he used his fists to stop a would-be kidnapper from dragging the man's 3-year-old daughter out of a park in Auburn, California.

Witnesses who were at the North Auburn Regional Park around 7 p.m. told deputies the suspect, 26-year-old Yonel Hernandez-Velasco, was acting strangely Saturday before he allegedly accosted the man's little girl.

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, according to KTXL.

Cecilia Sole was playing with her two daughters when the boys told Hernandez-Velasco to go away. Sole said that's when 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 KTXL.

But she said it was no game when Hernandez-Velasco started dragging the little girl away. She chased after them while calling the girl's father, who lives near the park.

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

"He just looked at me like 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 and then booked into the Auburn Jail upon his release. He has been charged with suspicion of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted kidnapping. His bail was set at $1.2 million.