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CHICAGO (CBS) – Police say a man tried to snatch a small boy at North Avenue Beach in broad daylight on Saturday morning.
The father who pulled his son to safety credits a large police presence with catching the suspect before the man was even able to leave the beach.
Armando Uvalle says the attempted abduction of his 2-year-old son, Isaiah, happened in an instant while his son was next to him. It occurred on the east side of the boathouse.
A stranger “just came out of nowhere and grabbed my kid,” Uvalle told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot.
Uvalle pulled his son away and said the man walked away.
The father immediately went to a female officer from the 18th District at the beach and explained what happened.
The fast-acting officer immediately put a flash message out via police computer, alerting all officers nearby with the description of the suspect: an African-American man carrying several bags, wearing a black shirt with a white logo and black pants.
Two officers assigned to beach duty, from Area 3′s gang-enforcement unit, heard the alert on the radio. The officers saw the man matching the description at the North Avenue Beach turnaround.
Police arrested him.
“Don’t be afraid to get a hold of the police immediately,” Chicago Police Cmdr. Leo Schmitz told reporters at a news conference later Saturday. “If he didn’t do it that quickly, this guy might have gotten away and what if he got somebody else at another time.”
Uvalle said the whole process took seconds. His advice to other parents: “You got to be careful on the beach. People can just come right here and grab your kid.”
Police have not charged the suspect but sources tell CBS 2 he’s a convicted sex offender. He pleaded guilty and was convicted in 1998 of aggravated criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of nine. He served nine years of a 12 year sentence.