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A California meteorologist was allegedly brutally beaten outside a bar after being confused with a police sketch of a man wanted for making inappropriate sexual comments to an 11-year-old.
Kevin Martin, 34, told police he was inside a Norco, California tavern when two men approached him and asked him to step outside for a chat, NBC affiliate KNBC reported. Once outside, he said the pair showed him a photo of an unidentified man wanted by Corona police for making lewd comments to a child in May. They accused him of being the individual in the police sketch.
When he denied being the man in the photo, Martin said one of the men attempted to strangle him, and then chased him down and punched him repeatedly at a nearby intersection.
"He says he has a daughter of his own and he would kill people like me that do that,” Martin told the local news station.
By this time, Martin said he had dialed 911 on his cell phone.
“I knew right there I'm in trouble,” he added." And I said, ‘You're going to kill me if you hit me one more time the way you're doing. You're going to kill me.’"
Witnesses helped scare off Martin’s alleged attackers. KNBC reported that Chris Ralph Arispe, 44, was booked on suspicion of battery by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Martin, whose meteorology Facebook page has upwards of 70,000 followers, is recovering.
“The shiner finally came in,” he told his followers in a video posted to social media.
“It takes a couple days for everything to bruise out. Jaw feels good; it’s a little swollen still as you can see. It feels pretty good. I feel good. No brain bleed. Everything is good.”
Martin noted that he’ll be attending Arispe’s court date in November.
“I’ll be in there with all kinds of evidence,” he said. “We got the 911 call, the audio from that; we got the cameras; we got a bunch of stuff that’s going to nail this guy. I forgave the guy, not to his face, but I forgive him as a person. It doesn’t mean just because I forgive someone as a person, that I forgive what they did, and what they could potentially do down the line to other people; no I don’t forgive that, and that’s where the justice system is going to be on-hand.”
The Corona Police Department, the law enforcement agency that published the composite sketch of the unidentified man, told Oxygen.com that Martin had been aware of the resemblance to the suspect through social media prior to the attack. Detectives there said he voluntarily came in for an interview, and was since cleared in the case.
“Several people started tagging Mr. Martin in the [Facebook] posts due to resemblance between the image, [the] computer generated sketch,” Sgt. Chad Fountain said. “Based on that information, he called us, detectives interviewed him, and he was ruled out as a suspect.”
Fountain, who condemned such forms of vigilante justice, noted that the police sketch was a computer-generated image created with information provided by the victim.
“We put these [images] out there so if people see someone similar or the actual suspect, we put that out there so they can call us and deal with it,” he added. “What we don’t want is individuals taking matters into their own hands. That creates more issues.”
The unidentified suspect who allegedly “made verbal sexual comments to an 11-year-old female student” is a thin Hispanic adult in his 20s, with black hair, and brown eyes, according to a police press release. The man is still at large. Authorities believe he may own a Golden Retriever and a blue car, possibly a Toyota, that has tinted windows.
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