Stranger tries to grab toddler in San Francisco, good Samaritans, mother thwart kidnapping: police
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - A 34-year-old man tried to grab a 2-year-old boy from the streets of San Francisco but was detained when a dentist walking with his wife and child saw what happened and held him until police arrived.
"I think my fatherly instincts kicked in and I did what I thought was right," Adam Walker told KTVU on Monday, outside Orphan Andy's Restaurant at 17th Street and Castro Street.
On Monday, police identified the suspect as Roscoe Bradley Holyoake of East Victoria Park, Australia. His LinkedIn profile and Australian websites indicated he was a DJ who goes by the nickname DJ Roski. He had been a volunteer pressenter at the radio station RTRFM of a weekly show called "All Things Queer." Officer Adam Lobsinger said that on Friday, a mother reported that a stranger tried to grab her son from the corner of Market and Noe streets about 12:25 p.m.
At the time, Adam Walker was walking past the mother of the toddler along with his wife, Sabrina, and 4-year-old son, Leo. He remembers that the mother had a baby in her front pack and was clutching her toddler by his hand.
The Walkers heard a struggle and they looked back.
"She was screaming, 'Police, police, help me!' and we noticed there was a man walking past with a child in his arms, and she was not letting go," Walker recounted.
Everyone in the vicinity was startled, then alarmed.
"In the moment it was very scary, and you just can't imagine that happening to you," said Sabrina Walker.
Then, just as suddenly as he had allegedly grabbed the boy, witnesses say the man turned him loose.
"He stopped and gave the boy back to the mom," described Walker, "and then he turned and smiled at us and took off running down the street."
Holyoake ran down the middle of 17th Street, with Walker and another witness chasing, and shouting for others to help.
Holyoake turned on Noe Street, but after racing half the block, and realizing several people were on his tail. He stopped.
"He put his hands up, and said 'All right, I'm done,'" recounted Walker, "and he didn't fight back, didn't struggle, just obeyed my commands, walked to the sidewalk and put his hands on the wall and got on his knees."
Nothing was said before police arrived.
"Honestly we were catching our breath, we were all out of breath, so there wasn't a lot of talking," said Walker.
In the meantime, Sabrina Walker stayed with the distraught mom and her children.
"Out in broad daylight when it's so crowded, this was a very, very scary experience," Sabrina Walker said.
The mother thanked the Walkers profusely.
"The fact that he chose that child over mine, it could have been my child," said Walker, "and if no one got him, and he got away, it could have been anyone else's child the next time."
Police investigators are looking into Holyoake's background and his time in the United States.
Police said the investigation is ongoing.
"We don't know what started this, why he decided to grab the child, we're trying to figure out some of those details," said Officer Tomlinson.
Numerous surveillance cameras on businesses in the area captured what happened.
Walker said he has no law enforcement training, but says with paternal instincts, he didn't need it.
"When you have a child of your own and you see something like that happen, something else just kind of takes over," Walker explained. "You act from your heart and not from your brain. So it's fortunate everything worked out and no one got hurt."
A 32-year-old mother was walking with her toddler son when the suspect allegedly came up from behind her, grabbed the child and ran off, according to police.
The mother then ran after the suspect and, after a struggle, was able to free the child from his grasp.
He ran away and was chased by good Samaritan bystanders, who were able to detain him until police arrived and officers took him into custody, police said.
Online jail records showed that Holyoake was booked Friday about 9 p.m. and was still in custody on Monday on $500,000 bail on a kidnapping charge.