A homeless man with a "lengthy criminal record" allegedly attempted to kidnap a 6-year-old girl from her mother's arms when the girl's uncle stepped in and took the man to the ground, KTLA-TV reported.
The homeless man approached the young girl and her mother outside a Venice Beach pizzeria in Venice, California, Jan. 4, appearing to be extremely intoxicated.
According to the girl's father, Riley Pegram, the man repeatedly approached the girl and her mother, saying, "You guys are kidnapping her, I need to save her," and "God is telling me to save her."
He then followed the mother until she sat down with the girl on her lap, before reportedly attempting to grab her from her mother's clutch. The girl's uncle, a U.S. Army veteran, then grabbed the man and pushed him back away from the child.
But the man didn't get the message. Seconds later, he approached the girl and her mother again, this time actually touching the girl.
At this point, the uncle grabbed the man by his hair and threw him to the ground. The girl's father and uncle then held the man down until police arrived.
The suspect, later identified as Evan McLaurin-Nelson, 31, was described by police as a homeless man with a criminal record in California and Nevada that includes battery, indecent exposure, and disorderly conduct.
According to the family, when police arrived, it took six officers to subdue him.
"We think he was on something. On some type of drugs or something," Pegram said in an interview with KABC-TV. "They got him down but the whole time he was just yelling out loud, 'Save the girl. I need to save her!'"
The young girl, Nevaeh Pegram, was shaken up after the incident.
"It was so scary," she told KTLA-TV reporters. "I was bawling my eyes out because I was scared I was going to get taken away from my mommy and daddy."
McLaurin-Nelson pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of attempted kidnapping and resisting or obstructing police, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. He was scheduled to return to court Jan. 20.
Homelessness in California is out of control
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report in December revealing that the increase in homelessness in California — up 16.4 percent in 2019 — was higher than all other states combined.
"While the rest of the country experienced a combined decrease in homelessness in 2019, significant increases in unsheltered and chronic homelessness on the West Coast, particularly California and Oregon, offset those nationwide decreases, causing an overall increase in homelessness of 2.7 percent in 2019," the HUD report said.
"Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported declines in homelessness between 2018 and 2019, while 21 states reported increases in the number of persons experiencing homelessness. Homelessness in California increased by 21,306 people, or 16.4 percent, which is more than the total national increase of every other state combined," the report added.
In response to the growing epidemic, President Trump warned California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a tweet to "fix the problem" or the federal government "will get involved."
(H/T: The Daily Wire)