CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man was arrested after CMPD says he approached two young children at an apartment complex, grabbed them by their wrists and tried to walk away with them.
Young girls escaped the attempted kidnapping in an east Charlotte neighborhood on Friday night.
The neighborhood, Sharon Point Apartment Homes, is off of Sharon Amity Road.
There are a lot of children in the complex and they play outside together nearly every day.
Jade Foster, an 8-year-old in the neighborhood, loves to do gymnastics outside with her friends.
But on Friday night around 7 p.m. a man that Jade and her friends didn’t recognize came stumbling toward them.
The man, Jose Lemus Rodriguez, 63, reportedly tried to grab the arms of two young girls and then put his finger to his lips signaling to them to “shhh.”
“We was playing by my house over there and this man came up. He grabbed me and the other girl,” said Jade.
Jade ripped her arm away as quickly as she could then started running to call the police.
“He was drunk but still that doesn’t excuse nobody for what he did," said Daesean Barnes, the 16-years-old cousin of Jade." That’s his inner feelings.”
The children were not injured during the incident.
When police arrived, they investigated and charged Jose Lemus Rodriguez with two counts of attempted kidnapping.
His son and namesake, Jose Rodriguez Jr, 20, said his whole family is distraught about this.
“I feel really saddened and stressed about this because this has never happened before," said Rodriguez Jr. “I know he’s a good person.”
WBTV spoke with three of Rodriguez’s adult children who all maintained their father was innocent and simply misunderstood by the young girls.
“I apologize to anybody to the family they feel that he did it,” said Rodriguez Jr. "But I’m 100 percent certain he is innocent.”
Jade said he could tell the man was stumbling and drunk, but when he started to grab her and her friend decided that screaming and running were her best options.
Jade’s family says they taught her to look out for “stranger danger” and are thankful those lessons kicked in when she needed them.
“We’re happy to all be here and that we’re safe,” said Jade.
To any other kids who sense danger around them, Jade says to try to defend yourself, and then call the police.
Rodriguez is currently in jail under a secured $25,000 bond.