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‘Potential Suspect’ in Abduction Arrested

June 9, 2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Police arrested a ``potential suspect″ Monday in the abduction of Jennette Tamayo just 10 hours after the shaken 9-year-old girl walked into a convenience store scared but safe.

The man, who was not identified, was taken into custody around 8:30 a.m. after police served a search warrant on a San Jose home where he was staying with a friend, Police Chief William Lansdowne said.

The home was less than a mile from where an intruder brazenly kidnapped Jennette on Friday after savagely beating her mother and brother.

On Monday morning, the man tried to fight off officers and was taken to the hospital after a police dog bit him, Sgt. Steve Dixon said. Police offered no further details on the arrest, other than to say the man looked like a police sketch of the suspect.

Jennette appeared at the store late Sunday, police said. Authorities were unsure if she escaped or was dropped off at the store.

Isa Yasin, the owner of the shop, called police when he realized who the girl was. ``She was crying and scared,″ said Yasin.

At a news conference Monday, Jennette’s mother, Rosalie Tamayo, thanked authorities and neighbors for their help in finding her daughter.

``I just want to thank them because they did not leave me alone, they helped me in the worst moment,″ she said in Spanish. ``I want to tell all mothers not let your kids walk alone on the street, no matter how secure it is. Because when you feel you loose a child, I think it is like the feeling of dying.″

Before the arrest, Lansdowne said Jennette provided useful information.

Deputy Chief Rob Davis offered several reasons why police believed the abduction was not a random crime, including that the man twice told Jennette’s mother ``you know what I want″ as he attacked her in her home before leaving with Jennette.

Davis said neither Jennette’s father nor stepfather were suspects.

Police interviewed the father, Pablo Velasquez, who told the San Jose Mercury News he had not seen Jennette for two years because of a child support dispute.

``That guy has hurt me,″ Velasquez said. ``That’s my only daughter and I love her very much.″

Jennette was taken from her home Friday afternoon by a man who staked out her house and waited for her to arrive home from school. Before he left with her, Jennette’s mother and teenage brother encountered the man, who beat them before he sped away.

Much of the ordeal was caught by a neighbor’s video surveillance camera. Released before Jennette’s discovery Sunday, the tape contains several brutal images and sounds.

The videotape showed a man pulling up in front of Tamayo’s home Friday afternoon and going inside. After approximately 25 minutes, the suspect returned to wait in the car. At one point another car drove past, then backed up and lingered next to the suspect’s car. Police said they were looking for the driver of that car.

At approximately 4:20 p.m., Jennette was seen crossing the street and entering the house alone. The man got out of the car about 90 seconds later and followed her into the house.

After another 25 minutes inside, the suspect came back outside, backed his car into the garage and closed the door.

Around this time, Jennette’s mother, aunt and 15-year-old brother drove up. The aunt got out and drove away in a separate car, while the boy tried to open the garage door. He managed to pry the bottom part of the door open and crawled underneath, at which point, police say, he was attacked.

While the attack isn’t visible on the surveillance tape, sounds of the altercation can be heard and Rosalie Tamayo was seen running inside the house to help her son. Police said the suspect confronted her between the kitchen and garage, and beat her with pans and a ladder.

By now the boy had broken free, and ran outside for help. His mother came out moments later, beaten and bloodied but screaming for help as well. The suspect then pulled out of the driveway with Jennette inside in his car and sped across the lawn, crushing rose bushes along the way.

Rosalie Tamayo and her son were treated at a hospital and released.

Police spokesman Steve Dixon said that while the images on the black-and-white tape were not always clear, the tape showed the attack was not a random burglary. Officials were trying to enhance the tape.

``The tape makes it very clear the he was targeting this house,″ Dixon said.

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