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A 52-year-old man is accused of trying to kidnap two young boys who were riding bikes in an east Pasco neighborhood.
Jose L. Lopez-Gonzalez allegedly offered to buy the brothers, ages 3 and 7, candy and toys at Walmart and told them to get in the back seat of his car.
He hadn’t yet driven off when the boys’ uncle realized something was wrong, saw one of the bikes abandoned on the sidewalk and went looking for his nephews.
The uncle, Giovanni Gonzalez, discovered a blue Buick parked a block away with his nephews in the back and the driver motioning for the boys to get down, according to court documents.
He got his nephews out of the car, asked a friend to call 911 and delayed the suspect from leaving until police arrived, documents said.
2 counts of kidnapping
Lopez-Gonzalez appeared this week in Franklin County Superior Court on suspicion of two counts of second-degree kidnapping. He was ordered held on $50,000 bail.
Prosecutors have until Wednesday afternoon to charge the alleged kidnapper or release him from the Franklin County jail.
Lopez-Gonzalez — who is not related to the boys’ family — told Pasco Officer Adrian Alaniz in Spanish that he was only joking about taking the boys to the store or buying their bicycles, court documents said.
He claimed he was in the area to pick up his own children from his wife and saw the two boys riding around.
He also denied telling the boys to hide but he could not answer why they were in his car, documents said.
The 911 call came in shortly after 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Lopez-Gonzalez was arrested that evening for the alleged abduction.
No longer heard boys playing
Court documents show that Gonzalez and a friend were doing yard work at his mother’s Cedar Avenue home, while watching his nephews ride their bikes up and down the street.
When he no longer heard the boys, Gonzalez checked inside the house and around the yard before noticing a bike abandoned at the corner.
Gonzalez and his friend started searching the block and that’s when he noticed a parked car and what appeared to be two boys inside. The uncle got the kids out of the car, then asked the driver what he was doing.
Lopez-Gonzalez responded that he knew the boys and was going to take them toy shopping, court documents said. The uncle said he had never seen the man before and wasn’t going to be taking his nephews anywhere.
Lopez-Gonzalez followed up, saying the children were his friends, documents said.
Mother never gave stranger permission
The uncle alerted his friend to call for help, later telling police he recalled seeing Lopez-Gonzalez’s Buick driving around the neighborhood earlier Friday.
The 7-year-old told an officer that he’d been outside with his brother when the man started talking to them. The man asked for their names, then told them to get in the car so he could take them to buy candy and toys, court documents said.
The boy said they followed the stranger’s instructions and got in the back seat, then were told to hide when they saw their uncle coming, documents said.
Their mother arrived and said Lopez-Gonzalez may have lived on the street a couple of years ago, but he no longer did.
She added that she did not know Lopez-Gonzalez and he never had permission to take her kids.