29-year-old San Leandro resident Carlyle Villazon was arrested Friday after two good Samaritans jumped in to help. Police are calling those men heroes. They are also reluctant heroes. One of them did not want to do television interviews to talk about what happened.
Police say predators know how easy it is for kids to become separated from their parents in large stores and they are warning parents to keep their children close during this busy shopping season.
"I told him. I said, 'Dude, you run, I'm going to knock you out. I'm really going to knock you out. Don't run,'" Dino Rinetti told ABC7.
That was all Rinetti had to say to the man accused of molesting the little girl inside Walmart, that, a few choice words not suitable for TV, and a call to the police.
"I almost punched him, but I said you know I can't. I was fired up. Once I found out he touched the girl, I said you know, I'm going to drop this guy," Rinetti recalled.
It happened at 7:00 Friday evening. The girl wandered away from her mother for a split-second to look for her little brother. She became distracted in the toy aisle and that, police say, is when Villazon snuck up from behind and assaulted her. He ran for the exit and removed his hat and coat as a disguise, but the girl spotted him near the garden department. Her mother screamed. One shopper tackled Villazon. Rinetti was paying at the cash register and heard the commotion.
"He tackled this guy big time. Wow. He's maybe 15-years-old and he let this guy have it. I was shocked," he recalled.
Police are convinced the suspect would have gotten away had it not been for the two good Samaritans.
"We would never encourage citizens to get involved as much as they did. It's a personal decision to do what they did, but we are sure glad that they did, to help get a predator like this into custody," Lt. Jeff Tudor said.
Less than two weeks ago, a 2-year-old girl was assaulted by a registered sex offender in a Union City Dollar Tree store. She had been separated from her grandmother for less than a minute.
Rinetti hauls trash for a recycling plant down the street from Walmart. He says he is no hero. He says he just did something he had to do.
"As a human being, it's the right thing to do. It's a tough world. There's a lot of mean people out there," he said.
In this case, Villazon is not a registered sex offender. He does have an arrest record that includes making terrorist threats. He is now facing charges that include aggravated sexual assault on a child. A spokesman for Walmart issued a statement Monday calling this an appalling act and saying the store does everything it can to create a safe shopping experience for customers.