Police in a Northern California town are praising a Target Store employee for helping bring a child's kidnapping ordeal to an end.
“When I first spotted him in the store, I thought he was going to shoplift,” said 22-year-old Roxanna Ramirez who works at a Target store in Pittsburgh, Calif.
Ramirez had no way of knowing the stranger she was watching, 43-year-old David Douglas, would later become the prime suspect in the armed abduction of a seven year old girl in Antioch.
What Ramirez noticed, was a shopper behaving suspiciously.
“He had a backpack, and he was picking things up and putting them down in the men's department,” recalled Ramirez.
As a loss prevention specialist, it's her job to monitor unusual behavior, so she followed Douglas for a time, even asking him is he needed help. He said no.
Then, she went to her office and watched him on surveillance cameras.
“He was fidgeting around, acting really weird, abnormal. I don't know, it just didn't make me feel comfortable,” Ramirez elaborated.
After he left the store, she continued to watch him remotely as he went to his car, and rifled through his backpack, occasionally leaving the car to pace and smoke, then returning.
“At one point, I saw him grab his steering wheel and start to shake it, and that was really off to me,” Ramirez noted. “That's when I really know something was wrong with him.”
She wrote his license plate number in the little notebook she always carries, and didn't think about it again until that night, when her girlfriend told her a child had been abducted.
“She read the description of the car, and I was like, 'hold on', that sounds like somebody I saw earlier at my job! It fits the same description,” said Ramirez. “I was like 'It's kinda weird' and she said, ‘you should call.’”
Ramirez called the plate in, and it led to Douglas, which led to the Antioch Marina, where police have had encounters with him before. He was apprehended, and the girl reunited with her family, four hours after she was taken.
Police came to Ramirez's door about midnight to tell her that her tip had made the difference.
“They said I helped crack the case, and my heart just dropped, like, really? I couldn't believe it” said a still incredulous Ramirez.
“She is a true hero,” acting police Capt. Tammany Brooks said. “We at the Antioch Police Department applaud people like Roxanna Ramirez who are willing to step forward to make our community a safer place. It's a collaborative effort.”
Ramirez said she is simply glad she could play a part in bringing the young victim to safety.
“I'm happy that she's home, and gets to spend the rest of this time with her family because not all kidnappings end like this. It feels really good.”
And she hopes her experience encourages everyone to listen to their gut instincts. In Roxanna's words, when something doesn't feel right, “Run with it.”