UNION CITY (CBS 5 / AP / BCN) — A registered sex offender was formally charged in court on Friday afternoon with three felony counts for allegedly sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl inside a store in Union City.
Police Capt. Brian Foley said 36-year-old Eugene Melendres Ramos snatched the girl Wednesday afternoon in a Dollar Tree Store and sexually assaulted her, all within a span of about 30 seconds while her grandmother and aunt were Christmas shopping in the next aisle.
According to Alameda County District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, Ramos was charged Friday with committing a forcible lewd act on a child, assault with intent to commit a sex crime and attempted intercourse or sodomy with a child under the age of 10.
Ramos was also charged with having a prior conviction in 2005 for assault with intent to commit a felony.
That conviction stemmed from a 2003 arrest for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old child in Hayward, Musgrove said. Ramos served a four-year sentence for that crime, and because he had completed his sentence, he was not placed on probation or parole when he was released, Musgrove said.
Until Wednesday’s attack, Ramos was living in legal compliance with his sex offender status. He was required only to register as a sexual offender with the Union City Police Department, which he did in May of this year, Musgrove said.
The prior conviction, which is a strike offense, could significantly increase Ramos’ state prison term if he’s convicted of the new charges, Drenick said.
According to police, Ramos grabbed the girl about 1 p.m. Wednesday inside the Dollar Tree at 1720 Decoto Road.
The girl’s grandmother allegedly spotted Ramos assaulting the girl and began chasing him.
A donations collector, 24-year-old Oakland resident Demario Hawkins, was in front of the store and also gave chase when he exited the building, police said.
Hawkins said he saw a woman chase a man out of the store, and that she was holding a toddler in the air, repeatedly screaming, “What did you do to my daughter?” at Ramos.
The child’s pants and diaper were still pulled down, and her shirt was pushed up, Hawkins said. Johnson described the girl’s aunt as “hysterical.”
“She had the baby in her arms and couldn’t catch him, so I ran after him,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins tried to hold on to Ramos, who threw a punch at Hawkins in an effort to get away, Hawkins said.
He said he hit Ramos twice in his efforts to subdue him, and that the child’s aunt began hitting him as well.
At that moment, Johnson ran out of the store and came upon the scuffle, Johnson said. The aunt looked at him and said, “Help me, he’s a bad man,” Johnson said.
“So I just tackled the guy, sat on him, and called 911,” Johnson said.
Hawkins said as many as five or six people were helping to detain Ramos by the time Officer Kory Frost, a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer who happened to be nearby, was flagged down to arrest Ramos.
Musgrove said that in his nearly 25 years on the police force, he has rarely seen people assist victims of crimes. He called Hawkins and Johnson “good people.”
“Without them, we wouldn’t have an arrest,” Musgrove said. “It’s nice to see people who are willing to step up and assist someone in need. I haven’t seen that in a while.”
Johnson said he still didn’t know what Ramos was being accused of when he tackled him, and he thought he might have been the child’s father attempting to steal the girl during a contentious custody fight.
When an officer told him the next day about the alleged assault, he was “on the verge of tears,” he said.
He added that it’s a good thing he didn’t know Ramos was a sex offender when he tackled him because he would have likely beat him up. He’s particularly sensitive to crimes against children and the elderly, he said.
“I do hope he gets some help. Just don’t let him out anymore,” if he’s convicted, Johnson said. “That’s the second time you’ve touched a child, and I feel like that’s two too many.”
Both Hawkins and Johnson said they felt good about helping to suppress Ramos. The men have been invited to appear on an episode of the Today Show, Johnson and Musgrove said.
Johnson said he just hopes the takedown brings good karma in the form of a job. The former open-road trucker is looking for work as a local driver, but he is not picky about opportunities.
“At this point, you get in where you fit in and work your way up,” he said.
The toddler was treated for minor injuries at Children’s Hospital in Oakland.
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