An Oakland man who tried to grab a child at the Century 16 Theater at Bayfair Mall on Tuesday night was thwarted by a vigilant aunt and soon arrested in the parking lot, San Leandro police said Thursday.
Police department spokesman Lt. Jeff Tudor said the suspect, 55-year-old Maurice Hastings, had an extensive criminal record including robberies, but no history as a sexual offender.
"He was not very cooperative and we don't know whether he wanted to grope the child or if it was a kidnap attempt," Tudor said.
Tudor said Hastings was carrying a methamphetamine pipe when he was arrested.
Police said the incident began at 11:45 PM Tuesday when the aunt, who is 21, took two relatives, ages 8 and 5, into a photo booth in the theater lobby to take a momento.
According to police, as they were taking photos, the curtain opened and Hastings reached into the booth as if to grab one of the children. But when Hastings saw the aunt he began to walk away toward the exit.
When the startled family members emerged from the booth, police say Hastings made a threatening move toward the aunt. A police officer called to the scene found Hastings wandering in the theater parking lot but the suspect ignored commands to stop.
Several officers arrived to helped detain Hastings. He was arrested for annoying and molesting a child, resisting and delaying a police officer and possession of a device to smoke a controlled substance.
"The quick actions of the aunt, mall security and theater staff allowed for officers to get to the scene quickly," Tudor said. "We're pleased that we were able to make an arrest and that nobody was injured."