'We could hear his footsteps': Parents recall near-kidnapping outside Minute Maid Park

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, May 12, 2023
Parents recall near-kidnapping outside Minute Maid Park
A Houston family is urging others to be aware of their surroundings after a reported attempted abduction near Minute Maid Park in broad daylight.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- What was supposed to be a fun outing at Minute Maid Park for a father's birthday turned frightening when the dad and his wife say a stranger tried to kidnap their young son.

The parents, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, shared their story with ABC13 to make others aware of the possible dangers in downtown.

"That's your worst nightmare, but that's the last thing you think would happen," the mother said.

The attack happened Saturday, May 6, at Congress and Jackson, outside Minute Maid Park. The couple and their sons, ages 1 and 3, were heading to the ballpark to shop at the new Astros team store and for a tour. It was part of the father's birthday celebration. The team was out of town. They loaded up their sons in a red wagon. But half a block short of the store entrance, their celebration soured.

"I noticed there was a man walking very closely behind us on the sidewalk," the mother said. "We could hear his footsteps. He came charging at the red wagon from behind."

First, they said he grabbed the wagon, and then he grabbed their youngest son.

"He grabbed him by his shoulder, and he grabbed him by his head, almost trying to pull him out," the mom recalled.

"At that point, my reaction was to tackle him because I knew the intent was to hurt my son," the father added.

The mother took the wagon with the children, still inside, and ran. The father ended up on the ground fighting the man off, they said. He shared photos of scratches and bruises, but the mother and children were unharmed.

Houston police arrested 32-year-old Devin Neal and charged him with attempted kidnapping. Court records show he is homeless and has a criminal history, including two prison stays for violent convictions. He remains in jail on a $500,000 bond, and that's where the parents think he should stay, as they are concerned for public safety.

"We just really want to bring awareness to other families like ours because we do have this false sense of security that we are safe," the mother said.

They are not sure if this is a homeless problem or a crime problem. One practical thing prevented the unthinkable - they buckled their sons into the wagon.

Daylight and downtown crowds did not protect them. Now, they want everyone to be more aware.

"Just to be watchful and be aware of your surroundings."

Neal's next court setting is July 25

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