have identified a suspect they believe was involved in four child annoyance incidents between July 26 and August 3 in Gilroy, and are preparing two investigations for district attorney’s office review.
The cases involved the pestering or annoying of four children — three girls and one boy — between 9 and 15 years old. Gilroy police previously referred to the cases as , but are now calling them "annoyances" under California Penal Code 647.6, according to Gilroy Police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao.
A reader emailed Patch asking about any possible link between the Gilroy incidents and Antolin Garcia-Torres, who authorities believe is responsible for the kidnapping and presumed murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar.
Patch followed up with Gallacinao who stated in an email that police were “reviewing investigations to determine if (Garcia-Torres) was involved."
Patch also learned that police had identified a suspect in connection with the child annoyance cases, but Gallacinao could not legally comment on whether Garcia-Torres is the identified suspect.
“I am not releasing any information regarding Mr. Torres," Gallacinao said. "It’s not to say that in the future I won’t release information, but at this time I’m unable to."
Authorities can’t release suspect information unless a formal charge has been filed by the district attorney's office or an arrest has been made, but may make exceptions when factors like public safety are concerned. In the case of the July 26 and August 3 incidents, Gallacinao said an arrest has not been made.
“In regards to Mr. Torres specifically, there’s no public safety issue because he’s in custody,” Gallacinao said.
On Wednesday, Patch attempted to contact , but he could not be reached for comment.
In an attempt to gather information on the two investigations, police interviewed the victims and witnesses in the fall, released a sketch of the suspect to the public and information about the car he reportedly drove.
Although these efforts generated tips, "investigative leads became stale and we weren't able to investigate any further,” Gallacinao said of the previous probes.
But recent information ultimately led police to identify a suspect. “New information did present itself and we did conduct more followup on it, and right now we will be submitting a case to the district attorney’s office for review regarding those incidents,” he said.
Gallacinao said police have re-interviewed the victims and witnesses since the new leads came in. He said suspect information will be released if the district attorney's office decides there’s enough evidence to file a formal complaint with the court.
The cases will be classified as "annoyances" because they lack evidence to substantiate attempted kidnapping charges. For an attempted kidnapping charge to be made, Gallacinao said some kind of illegal movement of the victim has to take place through intimidation or physical force.
“There’s no force, there’s no threat and there’s definitely no movement that the suspect ever had control or moved the child from one way or another,” Gallacinao said. “However, there was evidence that the annoyance of a child did occur. That’s what’s being investigated and that’s what will be reviewed by the district attorney’s office.”
Child annoyance under California Penal Code 647.6 is typically classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or jail time. But the charge could become a felony, depending on the suspect’s criminal history. A child annoyance does not necessarily imply sexual abuse or pedophilia.