The Marietta Police Department is crediting the brave actions of a 9-year-old boy with thwarting an attempted kidnapping.
According to officers, the kidnapping attempt took place in the restroom of the Walmart on Cobb Parkway near the Big Chicken around noon on Saturday.
Police said 51-year-old Michael Beltran of Marietta approached the boy and told him his mother had left him at the store and that he needed to go with him.
After the child wouldn’t go with him, Beltran grabbed him by the arm, but the boy was able to break free and fled to where his mother was in the store, police said.
The mother called 911 immediately, and officers arrived within minutes. They were able to find Beltran, who was still in the store, and place him under arrest.
He faces charges of kidnapping and battery and is currently being held without bond at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center.
Marietta Police Department spokesman Officer Jared Rakestraw said this type of attempted abduction is very rare, but does occur.
In 2018, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement with more than 25,000 cases of missing children, and less than 1 percent were from non-family abductions. Marietta has not had a child abduction in five years, Rakestraw said.
Rakestraw credited the boy’s actions with preventing the suspect from seeking to harm other children and said parents should be encouraged to teach their kids what to do in case of an attempted abduction, or to enroll them in certified self-defense courses, such as the department’s RADkids program.
“In this particular case the child had been educated by his parent on what to do if/when approached by a stranger,” Rakestraw said. “Furthermore, the child was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect to his mother. As a result, Marietta officers were able to quickly locate and arrest the offender before he could attempt this crime again.”
Police are asking anyone who recognizes Beltran and might have had similar encounters with him to contact Marietta Police Detective Mark Erion at 770-794-5363.