A 28-year-old Santa Ana man was charged Friday with kidnapping a 4-year-old boy he allegedly took from a birthday party at a park with the intent to sexually assault the child, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.
The boy was at Jerome Park in Santa Ana with his mother and other children on Wednesday evening when Armando Torreblanca Nunez approached and took the child away without the mother immediately noticing, police said Thursday.
Police were called and a sheriff’s helicopter began broadcasting its search for the boy.
Two men who heard the loudspeaker announcements detained the Nunez and kept the child safe until authorities could arrive, police said.
One of the “good Samaritans” said Nunez had been waiting with the boy in line at a nearby store, intending to buy candy.
“I asked him, ‘Is this your child?’ and he said no,” one of the men, Adolfo Acosta, told KTLA.
Acosta said he grabbed the child and Nunez ran out of the store.
Meanwhile, Miguel Luna, who works nearby, heard the loudspeaker just minutes after spotting Nunez with the boy. Luna said he assumed the boy was Nunez’s son, and gave Nunez a dollar when he asked for money.
Luna and Acosta got ahold of Nunez in the parking lot of a minimall. The boy was not physically harmed.
Police “found evidence that convincingly showed that Nunez intended to kidnap and sexually assault the child,” a news release stated Thursday.
Nunez had a condom in his possession when he was taken into custody, the DA’s office said.
Nunez was charged with one felony count of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. He is due for arraignment Friday.
He faces up to seven years to life in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration, if convicted as charged.
Nunez is being held on $1 million bail.
Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said investigators are looking into a possible link between Wednesday’s kidnapping and a May 22 incident in which a 9-year-old boy was sexually assaulted in a bathroom, also during a birthday party at Jerome Park.
Nunez has lived in Santa Ana, Orange, Irvine and Tustin, police said. They asked anyone who is aware of possible illegal activity committed by him to contact detectives at 714-245-8343.