AUBURN, Calif. (KCRA) - Wearing shackles and a jail-issued orange jumpsuit, Yonel Hernandez Velasco appeared Tuesday afternoon in Placer County Superior Court. He is charged with two felonies: kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.
“It’s heart-wrenching that somebody could do something so horrible to an innocent child,” said Cecilia Sole, the mother of the 3-year-old girl who was nearly abducted from Regional Park in Auburn on Saturday night.
Sole said Hernandez Velasco tried to take her daughter, right in front of her eyes.
"He turned to my 3-year old and interlaced his fingers with hers and started skipping, like, making a game out of it,” Sole said. “And when he realized my boyfriend and I were running at him, he grabbed her by the wrist and started dragging her.”
“And I said, 'You need to let her go now,'" she said. "And he lets her go and I grab both of my kids and start running.”
Sole said she called her children's father to help, and that’s when, she said, Hernandez Velasco turned belligerent.
“He pulls out police-issued handcuffs and puts them on his hand and tries to use them as brass knuckles,” Sole said.
Sole said her children's father punched Hernandez Velasco, whose mug shot reveals a split lip.
Placer County sheriff’s deputies quickly arrived and took the 26-year-old suspect into custody.
“I don't think a parent could ever forget something like this,” Sole said.
Authorities said Hernandez Velasco had also threatened some boys playing basketball at the park, just prior to the alleged kidnapping incident.
“He showed them the handcuffs he had in his pocket and said that he could actually drag one of them into the pond with him," Sheriff's Office spokesperson Dena Erwin said.
KCRA 3 asked Erwin if there was evidence that Hernandez Velasco might have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“We did do a blood draw at the hospital because of his bizarre behavior,” Erwin said. “You know, we want to see if he was under the influence of anything.”
The lab results have not come back yet.
In court on Tuesday, Sole was in the courtroom and was supported by a small army of mothers wearing T-shirts from the North Auburn Neighborhood Watch.
“I'm here so that he can see my face and he can know that what he did is very wrong,” Sole said.
Prosecutors argued in court that Hernandez Velasco is a transient with no ties to the community and asked for no bail to be allowed in this case. Judge Jeffrey Penney agreed.
Hernandez Velasco’s court case will continue on April 17.
In court, KCRA 3 learned that Hernandez Velasco is also facing misdemeanor charges for driving under the influence and for trespassing in cases, dating back to 2016.