Hearing calls for help, Westchester cook Jesus Delgado rushed in to foil the attempted kidnapping of a four-year-old boy
By Joe Piasecki
A taco stand cook has become a local hero after saving a four-year-old boy from a violent Feb. 26 kidnapping attempt in Westchester.
Jesus Delgado, 35, was enjoying a short break in the parking lot of T2 Tacos at Manchester Avenue and Loyola Boulevard when he heard a cry for help. Rushing out to the sidewalk, Delgado saw a man and woman arguing over two small boys. Then the man grabbed the smaller child and started running east along Manchester.
“I didn’t think twice about it when I saw the man take off with the kid. By instinct, I went and chased after him,” Delgado, a native Spanish speaker, said through a translator.
Delgado caught up a few hundred feet later and wrestled the boy away. High school students standing nearby called 911 and distracted the kidnapping suspect until police arrived.
On Tuesday, Delgado and three Westchester High School students received city proclamations of heroism from Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin during a neighborhood council meeting at the Westchester Recreation Center, across the street from the scene of the foiled kidnapping attempt.
Delgado also received a surprise gift: a ceremonial check for more than $22,000 that the Facebook group Moms of Westchester and Playa del Rey have raised online as a reward for his efforts.
According to police, last Wednesday’s kidnapping attempt occurred at about 3:30 p.m. when a nanny who was walking four- and six-year-old boys home from school was punched in the back of the head by the kidnapping suspect.
The woman was shaken but not seriously hurt, and neither boy suffered physical injuries, Los Angeles police Lt. David Crews said.
Police arrested Andron Gazarov, 33, of North Hollywood at the scene.
Gazarov was charged Friday with kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, assault and indecent exposure, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors say Gazarov removed clothing and exposed himself after Delgado recovered the child.
If convicted, Gazarov faces up to 12 years in state prison. He pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing on Monday.
As Delgado was leaping into action, the older boy rushed two and a half blocks home to find his father for help.
“While I was out in the driveway I see my [older] son sprinting down the street by himself and yelling. At first I thought he was just playing and having fun, but when he got closer I saw something was wrong,” recalled Tom O’Brien, the father of the two boys and manager Floyd’s 99 Barbershop in Venice.
“The look of terror on his face was just unbelievable,” O’Brien said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and I hope I never do again. He said, ‘Dad, dad. Somebody stole [my little brother].’”
By the time O’Brien rushed to the scene, Delgado had already rescued the younger child.
During the struggle, “We were kind of pushing each other back and forth, and that’s when I took the kid away and said ‘you’re not taking this kid,’” Delgado recalled. “Once I got the boy back, the guy threw himself on the ground and was throwing a tantrum and was telling me the kid doesn’t belong to me. I was telling him the kid doesn’t belong to him. He was cussing and yelling at me, and a little bit later the police showed up.”
Westchester High School senior Ryiah Carcamo, 18, and a friend rushed to the nanny’s side and dialed 911 as Delgado took off after the boy, telling dispatchers a man “about 5’8”, black pants, black shirt, tattoo on his left arm” was running eastbound with an abducted child, she recalled.
A second group of Westchester students followed behind Delgado and interfered with the would-be kidnapper’s ability to flee after Delgado recovered the child.
“We saw the guy pick up the kid and start running, so we decided to help,” said Anthonie Lucero, 16.
“We were right behind [Delgado] making sure [the kidnapping suspect] didn’t get any further than he was,” added Nicholas Hall, also 16.
Carcamo doesn’t feel that she did anything extraordinary.
“They were two little kids,” she said. “I mean, how could you just walk past this?”
O’Brien said he arrived to find the man later identified as Gazarov inexplicably laying face-down on the sidewalk.
“He was yelling and screaming while he was on the ground. Then he got up and started to walk halfway across Manchester [toward Westchester Park]. He was pacing back and forth. He took his shirt off. He exposed himself. He was threatening to come over and fight and claimed he was in the CIA,” O’Brien said.
Delgado remained by O’Brien’s side.
“I was standing right next to Jesus, but I didn’t know who he was at this point,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t know that he had rescued [my son], so I didn’t even get a chance to thank him.”
O’Brien and Moms of Westchester and Playa del Rey members came to T2 Tacos to thank Delgado the next day. At that time, the gofundme.com page raising reward money for Delgado (titled “Jesus – Westchester Hero”) had only been up a few hours but had already attracted some $4,000 in pledges, said organizer Jennifer Wiacek, whose two boys play sports with O’Brien’s. At press time, pledges exceeded $24,000.
“We wanted to do something for Jesus. It was such a brave act,” Wiacek said.
Jorge M. Vargas Jr. and Gary Walker contributed to this story.