Fresno Girl Saved from Kidnapper

FRESNO, Calif.

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The girl's mother Patricia Cardenas attended a police department press conference to thank the people, she called, "The angels" who, she said, "Were put in the path of my child and helped rescue her."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer described the child's safe return as a miracle. "Truly a miracle of God she's with us. We're very, very grateful and thankful and I know the parents too and we certainly beat the odds."

A miracle with many elements. The 8-year-old girl was abducted by a man in his pickup truck at 8:30 Monday night. She'd been in the front yard with other children. The suspect lured her close with the promise of toys. Another, younger girl, ran for help, but the suspect grabbed the 8-year-old and drove away. The girl's mother was alerted and drove frantically with a neighbor trying to spot the pickup.

The same suspect and vehicle had been described in an indecent exposure incident involving children a few blocks away, just minutes before. He'd been chased away by their mother, who called police.

A Video Policing surveillance camera captured the vehicle crossing a nearby intersection. More than one hundred police officers, along with sheriff's deputies and highway patrol officers searched through the night. But ultimately at around 6:30 in the morning Victor Perez saw the picture of the pickup on the morning news. He saw the truck pass by his home, ran out, got into his vehicle and gave chase.

"At first, I didn't know if it was him or not but when he took off, I kept up with him and I cut him off three times until I caught up with him here. And I told him, that ain't your little girl man." Perez said.

The suspect Gregorio Gonzales then pushed the child out of the pickup and drove away. Perez stayed with the girl and called police.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin was among the first to get the news. "To get a call just after seven that they found her, it is such a triumphant moment for our community."

Within an hour, California Highway Patrol Officer Dustin Dimmer spotted the truck. He approached and discovered the suspect crouched on the floor. With gun drawn, Dimmer arrested Gonzales, who Dimmer said, offered no resistance.

The little girl was taken to the hospital. She told police Gonzalez had taken to her to a wooded area along a canal bank. She was with him for several hours and police say during that time she was sexually assaulted. But Dyer said she did not appear to have been physically injured.

"I've got to tell you it was the highlight of my career to see the girl and her mom reunited in that hospital room." Dyer said.

The child is now recovering at home and is said to be doing well, but still shaken up by the ordeal.

Police say the suspect Georgio Gonzalez is a member of Fresno's notorious Bulldog Gang. Police say he has a criminal history of domestic violence and illegal weapons charges. Gonzalez is being held in the Fresno County Jail on a variety of charges including kidnapping and sexual assault.

By Gene Haagenson


Fresno man describes chase that led to girl's freedom

Victor Perez says he noticed the suspicious vehicle in his Central Fresno neighborhood, the second it pulled up. He says he threw on his shoes, hopped in his car, and set out to at least tell the driver his truck was wanted by police.

"I was ready to confront him, if it was him or not, but if it wasn't him, I was going to say, you know what dude, they're just looking for your truck," said Perez. "But once I saw the little girl stuck her head up, I said oh, that's the little girl. So I gave chase to him and finally he stopped here and he let the little girl off."

6-year-old Rocio Orrelana was with the victim Monday night, when the suspect approached them. "He just came out from nowhere else. He just came by and took her by the hand."

Rocio says she tried to warn her friend, but she went anyway. "And I said Lisa, stop, don't go with that guy, what about he's a stranger she didn't listen, so she just went with him."

Perez says he's happy he was off work Tuesday and in a position to be home to notice the suspicious truck and follow up.

Sontaya asks: "A lot of people in Fresno probably are going to be calling you a hero."

"I'm not a hero, it's just god works in mysterious ways because I should be picking grapes, but this rain didn't let me pick grapes. I been working on the farms for like three weeks now cause there's no work out there now so good thing for the rain that we didn't have to pick grapes today."

By Sontaya Rose


Fresno abduction suspect is Bulldog Gang member

Action News has learned that Gregorio Gonzales is a validated Bulldog Gang member who was on felony probation. Police say he stole his grandparent's truck and tried to cover up his crimes by lying to his own grandmother.

Sometime during the abduction investigators say Gregorio Gonzales sent a text message to his grandmother saying the truck that belonged to her had been stolen.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "She then informed him that she saw that pick up on the news and that had been involved in the kidnapping and that he should report that which he obviously never did."

We went to the grandparent's house where police say Gonzales lived. The grandmother did not want to talk to us on camera but says she's shocked and adds the family is going through a difficult time right now.

Meanwhile police say their video surveillance cameras proved to be a vital asset in catching the suspect.

In the surveillance video released Tuesday morning you can see the suspect's reddish pick up with a white stripe making a left turn at the intersection of First and Olive in Central Fresno.

Investigators believe at this moment Gonzales was on his way from the Central Fresno neighborhood where he exposed himself to children and was headed to the apartment complex where the abduction took place.

Chief Dyer said, "We were able to enhance that video to a degree and put it out to those of you in the media who repeatedly ran that in the media and I want to say thank you because that ultimately is what allowed us to be able to solve this case a locate both the victim as well as the suspect."

These monitoring devices are part of the police department's video surveillance program which was approved by the city council in 2008.

Gonzales faces numerous charges including kidnapping, sexual assault, and false imprisonment.

By Tommy Tran


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