When a neighbor in Antoinette Williams' South-Central Los Angeles apartment complex told her that a man was trying to lure her daughter and another child into his car with offers of money, she got mad.
Williams got even madder, she said Wednesday, when she confronted the man and he told her that he wanted to buy her child, then laughed at her outrage. Williams and a friend, Zan Trocadero--who is six months' pregnant--reacted with direct action.
"Zan socked him in the back of the head," Williams said. "I grabbed him by his hair. I socked his face. I kicked him in the stomach. I chased him out in street and socked him in the eye. All the traffic stopped, but I just kept on beating him."
Neighbor Alerted Her
The man ran off Tuesday afternoon, but Williams said that two men from the neighborhood found him shortly afterward, pummeled him further and held him until police arrived. Martin Baez Gamez, 26, was treated at County-USC Medical Center jail ward for a broken jaw, blackened eyes and cuts and bruises. Gamez was booked there on a misdemeanor count of suspicion of annoying children.
Williams, 25, said she was in her apartment in the 6300 block of S. San Pedro Street at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday when a neighbor knocked on the door and told her that a man was talking to her 6-year-old daughter, Charlean, and Charlean's 8-year-old friend, Jasmine, in the yard outside.
"My neighbor said the man was offering the girls $2 to go off with him," Williams said. "He was standing right there on the porch. I couldn't believe it. . . . I asked him, 'What the hell do you want?' "
"I want a baby," the man replied.
"I told him, 'Get away from my kid.' "
Williams said the man left, but a few minutes later, Trocadero, 25, saw him bothering other children at another apartment.
"I asked him what he was doing, and he said he wanted to buy a baby for $2," Trocadero said. "I told him to get out of there, and gave him a push.
'So I Socked Him'
"He started laughing, and that made me angry," the pregnant woman continued. "So I socked him in the back of the head."
Williams said that was when she joined the fray, carrying it out into the middle of Gage Avenue. "I finally stopped, but I kept cursing him out as he ran away," she said. "Then I went back to my apartment and called the police."
She said officers arrived a few minutes later and left to search for the suspect. She said she also told two neighborhood men--whom she did not identify--what had happened, and they went after the man.
"Those two guys spotted him . . . ," Williams said. "They brought him here and asked me, 'Is this him?' I said, 'Yes.' Then they socked him pretty hard."
Williams said she called the police again. This time, she also called paramedics, "because the guy was getting pretty bloody."
Did 'a Number on His Face'
"When the officers got there, the guy was lying on the sidewalk," said Detective Dick Heidesch of the Los Angeles Police Department's Newton Division juvenile section.
"The citizens had really done a number on his face," Sgt. Doug Tantee added.
Gamez was reported in stable condition at the jail ward, where detectives talked to him on Wednesday. "He couldn't describe who beat him up," Heidesch said. "It would be premature to speculate on what happened."