Sexual Assault Suspect Arrested Across from El Cerrito Police Station
Photo: Freddy Penate-Melara
EL CERRITO — A 42-year-old man is in custody for an attempted sexual assault on two young girls. The suspect was arrested across the street from the El Cerrito Police Station on January 24th.
The assault happened close to Manila Avenue, on a biking and walking pathway, adjacent to BART train tracks. Both girls escaped from a man who attacked them, after one of the girl’s father intervened.
Their guardian was nearby when the attack occurred, and the incident was treated as an attempted kidnapping. It took only a few moments for police to run to the crime scene.
Responding officers learned two girls, ages 8 and 9, were accosted while walking behind a Department of Motor Vehicles Office. The DMV office located at 6400 Manila Avenue is within sight of the police station.
The attacker grabbed one girl by her arm, but she was able to break free and run away. The second girl was grabbed and pinned to the ground by the attacker who began choking her.
When the father confronted him, he fled southward, running along the BART pathway. Next, he apparently attempted to blend into the line outside the DMV office.
An El Cerrito officer located the suspect near the entrance to the DMV office. A witness positively identified the suspect who was taken into custody.
The suspect identified as Freddy Penate-Melara, 42 of Richmond, was brought to the El Cerrito police station for questioning. Investigators learned that the suspect intended to sexually assault the girls.
Penate-Melara faces charges that include assault to commit a lewd or lascivious act on a child. Presently, Penate-Melara remains in custody at the Martinez Detention Facility in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
Anyone with information about the assault can contact El Cerrito Police. Call 510-215-4400 or email email@example.com.