Prince George's County Police announced the arrest of a 25-year-old Chillum man on charges relating to a kidnapping and sexual assault of a six-year-old girl on Monday.
Police believe the man, Charles Asuming Amofa of the 600 block of Sheridan Street in Chillum, took the young girl while she was shopping with her father in the Value Village Thrift Store.
Officer Fredys Castro-Rivas, speaking in a press conference, said that the girls father approached him in the store at about 1:30 p.m. to report that his daughter went missing.
Castro-Rivas, who was working his second job as a security officer at the thrift store, sprung into action. Equipped with a cell phone photograph provided by the father, Castro radioed police dispatchers to report the girl's disappearance and began patrolling nearby areas in search of her.
"I could only think 'what if this was my daughter that was missing," Castro-Rivas told reporters.
As he was searching, he caught a glipse of a man and little girl matching the description walking hand-in-hand in the distance in a park at the 2500 block of Chapman Road in Chillum's Lewisdale neighborhood. Castro-Rivas approached. As he made contact, Amofa released the girl from his grasp and tried to walk away. Castro-Rivas stopped the man before he could get away and then turned his attention to the girl.
Castro-Rivas described a heart-wrenching sight, with the girl crying out for her father.
"All she had in her eyes were nothing but tears," said Castro-Rivas. "The only thing coming out of her mouth were 'I want my daddy. I want my daddy.'"
Within minutes, father and daughter were reunited.
According to police, the girl was missing for less than half an hour.
Detective Luis Machicote urged parents to always be aware of where their children are, emphasizing that the child went missing from her father within a 30 second lapse in attention.
During the investigation, police said that Amofa admitted that he tried to kidnap another young girl from Value Village on July 9. During that incident, police said that Amofa kidnapped and tried to sexually assault an eight-year-old girl, but she was able to fight her way free.
Police said that there are no indications that Amofa had victimized anyone before this.
Amofa stands charged with two counts of kidnapping a child under the age of 16, first, second and fourth degree sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, and two counts of second degree assault.
The father of the girl kidnapped on Monday released a statement to the media through the county police department. In it, he expressed his gratitude for actions of Castro-Rivas.
"I want to thank him for the rest of my life. If it wasn't for him, who knows what would have happened," wrote the father.