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Young boy attacked in San Antonio store bathroom, sparking one-mile footchase with suspect

A shopper jumped into action to help detain the man accused in the assault.

SAN ANTONIO — When a young boy ran from a south-side retail restroom, crying because he had just been attacked, his parents started screaming for help.

Tyrone Turner answered the call.

"Everyone started screaming and yelling and we all thought it was an active shooter," Turner said. "Everyone was hiding behind tables, hiding behind walls."

But Turner quickly realized it was a different kind of threat.

"I saw a young boy holding his face with his mom screaming. His parents were around him, and everyone around said, 'Go get him!'"

Turner said at first he didn't know what had happened to the boy in the bathroom. But when people pointed out the man responsible, he took action.

The parents said that in a store crowded with shoppers, Turner was the only one who jumped to chase the suspect out the door and down the street.

"I ran outside and he was across the street, so I bolted across the street and I just chased him down because I felt like I needed to go after him. I felt like I needed to stop him for what he did," Turner said. "It was assault. It was on a child."

The chase, which saw both men dodging cars as the suspect ran across busy Southwest Military Drive, happened early Saturday afternoon.

With eyewitnesses calling police all along the route, Turner said the suspect ran into two different businesses trying to get away, but he refused to give up.

Turner said when police finally caught up with the pair, they were at least one mile down the road.

"He tried to jump off of a bridge. He was trying to tell me that the kid was trying to sexually assault him! Nothing that he said made any sense, so I just kept throwing him down, throwing him against the wall," Turner said.

Turner said as a black man chasing another man down a crowded street, he was aware that things could go badly for him. So he called police while he ran and explained what was going on. 

Turner said he also shot a short video clip in case the man got away, so that he would have some evidence. He said he felt confident that with so many witnesses following along and calling police, he wasn't in danger.

"I mean, he was jumping across in traffic, zig-zagging, and I'm pretty sure people were calling in. So I didn't feel like I was in a situation where I was going to be hurt. I was in a situation where I wanted to protect a kid."

Turner said as police closed in, the suspect – out of breath – gave up.

"He said, 'You got me, you got me. I give up. Stop chasing me.' But he wouldn't stop, so I didn't stop. But he felt defeated, and he knew what he did. He was crying. But at that point? No, that's not OK," Turner said.

With the suspect safely in police custody, Turner said he returned to the store to reassure the boy. 

"We already feel that in this country we can't go anywhere or do much of anything because people are getting attacked, especially our children. So I just wanted to make sure that he felt OK and he knew the guy was found," Turner said.

Turner said meeting the family was an awesome experience.

"My son's 9 years old, so when I saw him he gave me this big hug and I was like, 'It's OK,'" Turner said. "I don't want the boy to think he can do that to someone else, you know? That was my only mission, to make sure that he was OK."

As for the parents, who were shopping on tax-free weekend, the father said he was right outside the bathroom with another child when he heard the commotion. The boy's mother said she was nearby helping her other children.
To protect the family from further harm, we are not identifying them by name.

"I heard a loud bang coming from the restroom and I heard my son yelling, 'Dad, he hit me!'" the boy's father said. 

The dad said that, with his son crying, he chose to look after his boy and urged bystanders to give chase.

"There were a lot of people looking and I yelled, 'Get him! He hurt my son!'" the dad said. "Tyrone saw what was happening and he took off and ran after him."

"I took off running, but I didn't know who I was running to or for," the mother said. "So when I saw the man being chased way down the street, I ran back to the store."

Overcome with emotion, the mom said that while the chase continued outside, "a family was praying for us. I closed my eyes and I felt calm and then the firefighters and paramedics and SAPD got there and everybody was freaking out."

"It happened so very, very fast," she added. "They examined my son. They said, 'Put ice on the injury on the back of his head.'"

The mom said it took a while for word to filter back that a man had been arrested.

"If it wasn't for Tyrone risking his life, he could have escaped. I mean, he hit a boy in the restroom. He grabbed him. My son said, 'What are you doing?' and then the man pushed him really, really hard and he hit his head."

The mom said that, at first, investigators told her they didn't want the family talking with Turner. But they eventually got their chance.

"I just wanted to tell him thank you from the bottom of my heart, to thank him because he didn't have to do that," the mom said, adding Turner was humble and grateful. "He said, 'All that matters is that your son is OK.' But what would have come of this if he hadn't risked his life?"

Police said 27-year-old Marcus Zapata is the man arrested in connection with the incident. He is charged with injury to a child with bodily injury.

The charge is a third-degree felony and bond has been set at $20,000.

We reached out to the store to learn more about their investigation into the incident and received the following statement:

“At Target, the safety of our guests and team members is our top priority. We are partnering with the San Antonio Police Department on their investigation into this incident. Since this is an active investigation, please contact law enforcement with further questions.”

"This is San Antonio you know, and we look out for family and we look out for kids," added Turner, who has lived in the Alamo City for 10 years. "This is our community and we came together at the end."

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