A local father has been hailed as a hero after he saved his kidnapped 3-year-old daughter by knocking out the thief.

Freddie Cantrell’s two young daughters, mother, and stepfather spent Sunday night playing in the Regional Park across the street from Freddie’s house.


A place of fond memories has become a focal point of their worst fears. “The mom called and told me to get down here. She said someone attempted to abduct Aubrey,'” as recounted by Cantrell.

Their 6-year-old daughter also witnessed the entire horrific incident.

Little Natalie said, “the man stepped up and began pulling Aubrey and running with her and skipping.”

The mother and stepfather began running toward the criminal while Cantrell sprinted in the other direction from across the park.


Cantrell said that when the suspect “tried to strike at me with handcuffs wrapped around his fingers and attempt to use them like brass knuckles,” he reacted by “trying to knock him unconscious.”

A short time after the citizen’s arrest, deputies from Placer County arrested 26-year-old Yonel Hernandez-Velasco on charges of attempted abduction and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Mother and neighbour April McGuinness said, “You see the horrible things on the news and hope it’s not going to happen to your kids, so you had just to keep an eye out, I think.” The episode tragically demonstrated the dangers of allowing children to play unattended.


The woman’s eleven-year-old son commented, “It’s better than me having to be abducted because I came here alone.”

Many people are relieved that he is no longer in their neighbourhood. A guy who lives in the area and often takes his two dogs on walks remarked, “If I saw it, I would go after the offender too because someone’s child, you know.”

Cantrell didn’t hesitate or freak out; he just said his instincts kicked in. He said, “Well, that young child is my daughter, and I’m just doing the fatherly thing, and they’re saying, ‘Oh, you’re a hero for rescuing her.'”


The girl’s mom shared the tale on Facebook, and hundreds of people from across the nation have commented, thanking the dad.

Hernandez-Velasco was brought to the hospital to be checked and lodged in the Auburn Jail.

The suspect’s blood was taken to see whether they were intoxicated. He was put into custody and charged with abduction, aggravated assault, and attempted kidnapping.

Bail has been set at $1.2 million, and is still in detention.