A homeless man who allegedly tried ripping a 6-year-old girl away from her mother on Venice Beach was tackled by the girl's family before being hauled off in handcuffs, police said.
Evan McLaurin-Nelson allegedly ambushed the family on a Venice Beach restaurant patio and tried snatching the young girl earlier this month, police said.
Authorities said that the bizarre confrontation occurred around 7 p.m. on Jan. 4. McLaurin-Nelson allegedly approached the 6-year-old, said he knew her, and that he needed to “save her.” The man then supposedly trailed the child, who eventually sat in her mother’s lap. McLaurin-Nelson repeatedly tried to reach for the young girl but was blocked her father and uncle, and was quickly arrested by police.
“He almost grabbed her,” the child’s father Riley Pelgram told KABC. “I moved him away, my brother pulled him down by the hair, my brother got on top of him, I got on top of him, we’re holding him down.”
Footage of the wild encounter was captured by surveillance cameras and released to local media outlets. In the footage, the 31-year-old homeless man can be seen approaching the girl’s mother, who is clutching her daughter on her lap. As McLaurin-Nelson aggressively tries to yank the girl away from her mother, Pelgram and the child’s uncle appear to grab the alleged assailant by his dreadlocks, later wrestling him to the ground.
The family said that throughout the scuffle, McLaurin-Nelson continually ranted and raved.
“He started telling us ‘God told me to save her, I have to save her’ so he kept coming up to us trying to take her,” Pelgram said.
Pelgram suspects McLaurin-Nelson was possibly under the influence.
"We think he was on something,” the child’s father told KGO-TV. “On some type of drugs or something. I don't know if he was homeless but I know he was on drugs.”
The family said they were unsure their daughter was targeted.
"They got him down, but the whole time he was just yelling out loud, 'Save the girl, I need to save her'," the father added.
The girl, who also spoke to local media outlets, was traumatized by the entire ordeal, and described McLaurin-Nelson as unrelenting.
“This guy was trying to follow us, and my uncle, he had to shove him out of the way and then he kept following us,” she told KABC.
"It was so scary," the 6-year-old told TV station KTLA. "I was bawling my eyes out because I was scared I was going to get taken away from my mommy and daddy."
Authorities believe McLaurin-Nelson is homeless. Officials said he moved from Las Vegas to California approximately three years ago. He has a past arrest record in both Nevada and California, police said, which includes charges of false imprisonment, disorderly conduct, battery, and indecent exposure.
McLaurin-Nelson was also charged with obstructing police in the Jan. 4 incident, KTLA reported. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court next on Jan. 20. He’s being held on a $160,000 bond.
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