Families tackle sex offender who ran off with 4-year-old at California park, cops say

Riverside County Sheriff's Department

First, a 29-year-old sex offender tried to grab a 3-year-old boy’s arm Monday at a California park, but playground equipment blocked him, police say.

Then Marcus DeWitt picked up a 4-year-old boy and ran off, chased by parents and families at the park who wrestled the child free, Lake Elsinore Police Department officials wrote in a statement.

DeWitt, a registered sex offender, tried to escape but another relative tackled him and held him for police, the statement reads. The attempted kidnapping took place at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Rosetta Canyon Sports Park in Lake Elsinore, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Neither child was hurt and both are safely back with their families, police wrote.

DeWitt faces kidnapping charges, KTLA reported. He’s being held on $1 million bail and has an initial court date Wednesday.

Deputies asked that anyone with information contact investigator Matt Posson of the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.