Good Samaritans in the Castro stopped a man from kidnapping a child in broad daylight on Friday, according to police.
The two-year-old child was with his mother near Market and 17th streets around 12:30 p.m. when a man grabbed the toddler, police said.
The suspect then walked away with the child in his arms and made it about half a block away before bystanders heard the mother screaming and intervened.
The suspect then dropped the child and ran before the bystanders chased him down and prevented him from escaping.
The mother, a 32-year-old woman, was injured but refused medical treatment.
Police arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the kidnapping. His identity had not been released as of Monday morning.
In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Adam Walker, one of the bystanders that chased down the suspect, recalled that he was walking in the Castro neighborhood with his wife and four-year-old son when they heard the mother scream “Stop! Stop police! This man has my child!”
The couple turned around to see a woman trying to pull a toddler from a man’s arms. Walker said the woman also had an infant strapped to her chest at the time.
Walker recalls that the suspect carried the child past the front of a popular Castro diner, Orphan Andy’s, which was packed with a “window full of people that were now staring.”
Walker said the suspect’s reaction to the crowd was bizzare. “The guy all of a sudden stopped, looked around and gave the child back and gave everyone a strange smile before taking off running.”
According to Walker, “fatherly insticts kicked in” as he chased the suspect and called for more help along the way. He cornered the suspect along with a group of bystanders near the intersection of 17th and Noe streets.
The suspect raised his hands and surrendered to Walker, who then held him against a wall until police arrived.
Witnesses described the suspect as a clean-shaven man wearing khakis and a backpack.
“It wasn’t something you would expect from someone dressed like that, he just looked like an average person,” Walker said. “It could have very easily been my child, and if he wasn’t caught it could have been my child next.”