A 35-year-old homeless man is accused of attempting to kidnap a 7-year-old girl from a Paramount KFC before getting into a physical altercation with an employee, customer and two sheriff's deputies, officials said Wednesday.
Lorenzo Ray Taylor, of Paramount, entered the fast food restaurant near Alondra Boulevard and Paramount Boulevard on Tuesday and began yelling at a grandmother, a mother and her young daughters, grabbing at the food on their table, officials said.
"We started to eat and all of a sudden a man just walked up to us very strange and I wasn't sure what he was going to do," Heather Graesch, the girls' mother, said. "I wasn't sure if he was going to ask for money or what was going to happen, and then he grabbed our food."
Deborah Marlow, the girls' grandmother, feared for their safety and moved her grandchildren toward the business counter, officials said.
Taylor then allegedly walked toward them and grabbed the 7-year-old daughter, Giselle Hamilton, by the arm, pulling her away from her grandmother, deputies said.
"This man was staring at her and saying things like 'the girl, the girl', crazy stuff," said Marlow. "So he lunged at me and grabbed Gee Gee by her arm. I had her other arm like this and he grabbed the arm that he could see and pulled her. We're tugging of war and he's fighting with this superpower trying to pull her away from us."
A 45-year-old employee and another customer got in between the family and Taylor, freeing the girl from his grasp, according to witnesses.
The family then ran to the back of the restaurant to escape the man. Marlow and Graesch pushed Giselle and her little sister out of the drive through window into the arms of another customer to make sure they escaped.
When deputies arrived on the scene around 3:40 p.m. Taylor was allegedly fighting another man before being detained by two civilians.
He soon broke free and attempted to flee the scene, deputies said.
A struggle ensued between the deputies and the suspect, and Taylor soon began to overpower the deputies, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.
The two civilians jumped into action and assisted the deputies but Taylor continued to fight, according to officials. The deputies then used a Taser on the suspect and successfully apprehended Taylor.
He is currently at a local hospital awaiting clearance for booking.
The family obtained an attorney, Marc Strecker, who told KTLA that the KFC employees refused to help the family in a timely manner.
Strecker also said that the deputies stood outside the door and waited as the man continued to "terrorize" Marlow and her granddaughter.
The Sheriff's Department says the first arriving deputy waited for less than a minute outside for backup to arrive, and then went in.
The family is discussing possible legal action.
In a statement, KFC said restaurant employees "immediately called law enforcement and the alleged perpetrator was restrained until he was arrested."
"We are cooperating fully with local law enforcement on this investigation. Any further inquiries should be directed to the Lakewood Sherriff’s Station Detective Bureau," the statement read.