VALLEY CENTER, Calif. (KGTV) — A man wanted for trying to kidnap young girls in the Los Angeles and Escondido areas is in custody, according to San Diego Sheriff's Department.
SDSO says Elijah Lopez, 24, was wanted on suspicion of following and forcibly grabbing a six-year-old girl who was walking with her blind father in Huntington Park, south of downtown Los Angeles, on Tuesday.
A wanted flyer was issued bu LAPD and eventually reached SDSO's Valley Center substation.
Wednesday, an SDSO deputy was driving back to Valley Center when he noticed a man matching Lopez's description at the intersection of Highway 78 and Broadway, wearing the same clothes detailed in the wanted flyer, the department says.
As the deputy detained Lopez, SDSO says an observer flagged the deputy down, claiming Lopez had been following a juvenile, who ran into a nearby grocery store for help.
"It was near the end of his shift," said Lt. Pat Shannon, the Valley Center Sheriff's Substation's commanding officer. "He still had the mindset to have those observation skills on, thank goodness he did because I'm positive he averted something worse from happening."
Escondido Police say they are investigating a case that occurred on Tuesday, in which Lopez was reportedly seen at about 4:30 p.m. in the area of Valley Parkway and Midway Dr. chasing a young woman. The woman entered a store to get away, an EPD spokesperson said. Investigators are working to determine "what his intent was in chasing the victim" and say that additional charges could follow.
Lopez has been booked into Los Angeles Police Department on $150,000 bail.