EL CERRITO (CBS SF) — A Richmond man has been charged with trying to kidnap and sexually assault two young girls in El Cerrito last week, according to authorities.

The incident happened last Thursday along the BART path next to the DMV on Manila Avenue.

READ MORE: Meier Scores Franchise-Record 5 Goals As Sharks Rout Kings, 6-2

Police said 42-year-old suspect Freddy Penate-Melara grabbed one of the girls by the arm, but she was able to break free. He then pinned the second girl to the ground and tried to choke her.

The father of one of the girls was walking ahead on the path and was alerted to the trouble.

The suspect ran off, but was arrested by shortly after.

On Thursday, January 24, 2019, officers from the El Cerrito Police Department were dispatched to the area of Manila Avenue and the BART path on the report of an attempted kidnapping. Officers arrived on scene and learned two juveniles, ages eight and nine were walking along the BART path behind one of the girls’ father.

READ MORE: COVID: Lower Levels Of Viral RNA In Wastewater May Signal Turning Point In Surge

While walking along the BART path adjacent to the DMV building, 42-year-old Richmond resident Freddy Penate-Melara approached the two girls. Penate-Melara grabbed one of the girls by the arm, but she was able to break free. Penate-Melara then grabbed the second girl, pinned her on the ground and began to choke her.

Penate-Melara then fled southbound on the BART path when the father was alerted to the incident.

Moments after the call on the attack was received by dispatch, an El Cerrito police officer located the Penate-Melara near the entrance to the DMV. He was positively identified by a witness and subsequently arrested.

While being questioned by police investigators, Penate-Melara confessed he had intentions to sexually assault the girls. Penate-Melara was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility and formally charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office on Friday. Penate-Melara remains in-custody with his bail set at $2.5 million.

MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Firefighters Battle Fire In Abandoned Home In San Jose

Anyone who may have witnessed the assault or has information is encouraged to contact the El Cerrito Police Department Detectives at 510-215-4400 or email investigations@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us