Richmond man arrested in attack on girls in El Cerrito


A Richmond man was arrested last week on suspicion of attacking two young girls near the DMV building in El Cerrito, with the aim of sexually assaulting them, police said.

El Cerrito police were dispatched on Thursday to the area of Manila Avenue and the BART path on the report of an attempted kidnapping. They learned two juveniles ages 8 and 9 were walking along the BART path behind one of the girl’s father.

While walking on the path adjacent to the DMV, 42-year-old Freddy Penate-Melara allegedly approached the girls and grabbed one of them by her arm, but she managed to break free, police said. He then grabbed the second girl, pinned her to the ground and began choking her, police said.

When the father found out what was happening, Penate-Melara fled southbound on the BART path. He was soon after located by police near the DMV entrance and then positively identified by a witness.

“While at the ECPD, investigators spoke with Penate-Melara and learned he had intentions to sexually assault the girls,” police said.

He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility, where he remains in custody, and was formally charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office on Friday. His bail was set at $2.5 million.

Anyone who may have witnessed the assault or has information is encouraged to contact the El Cerrito Police Department Detectives at 510-215-4400 or email [email protected]