LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A 16-year-old wrestling champion helped stop a kidnapping and assault near Las Cruces, New Mexico, by pinning a man to the ground until deputies arrived, authorities said.
Mayfield High School student Canaan Bower was being lauded as a hero after controlling suspect Daniel Arroyo Beltran, 22, of Phoenix, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported Thursday.
Dona Ana County deputies arrested Beltran Wednesday after witnesses told authorities he tried to kidnap three children at a gas station.
The mother told authorities that she got off at a bus stop with her children, ages 9, 2 and 1, and was waiting for an Uber driver to arrive when a man grabbed her 2-year-old child and demanded the woman turn over her children.
Witnesses told authorities the man punched the woman and others who tried to intervene before the woman was able to rush inside the store with her children. Witnesses said the attacker followed, continuing his demands.
“Punches were being thrown and (he could hear) screams of terror, so he jumped in his truck and went across the street,” Canaan Bower’s dad Troy Bower told the Sun-News. “By the time he got there, they had gone inside and so he got out of his truck and went inside.”
Troy Bower added that his son told him he body-slammed the man and got him in a chokehold until deputies arrived.
Canaan Bower won the District 3-5A championship in the 285-pound (129-kilogram) heavyweight division on Feb. 16, and later competed at the state tournament.
“You fear for your own child’s safety in that situation,” Troy Bower said. “You don’t know if this guy’s maybe got a gun or a knife — you don’t know what this guy’s capable of.”
However, he said he was confident his son would do the right thing and succeed.
There’s no indication in police reports that the man knew the mother or her children.