Texas man accused of kidnapping girl at a birthday party is going to prison, feds say


Damien Dre Gonzales of Levelland, Texas, was sentenced to prison after kidnapping a girl from a birthday party as her dad helped a choking woman, officials say.

Fresno Bee Staff Photo

A Texas man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping a girl while her dad was distracted by a choking woman is going to prison.

Damien Dre Gonzales, 27, was sentenced Thursday to over 30 years in prison after abducting the 9-year-old from a birthday party in August, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

According to prosecutors, Gonzalez lured the girl away from the party in Levelland, a city west of Lubbock, by asking her to help take beer to his car as her dad helped a woman who was choking.

The girl’s disappearance set off a frantic search, and party-goers learned Gonzalez took her after watching home surveillance video, prosecutors say.

About the same time, police learned of a car parked in the middle of a street several miles from the party.

Gonzales had hit a mailbox and stopped in the road, authorities say.

As police arrived to investigate the parked car, they discovered the girl inside and Gonzales with an unbuckled belt and unzipped jeans, authorities say. Several women from the party arrived at the scene while police searched the car.

“The women were emotionally overwhelmed, crying and appeared terrified,” documents say. “When one of the women took (the girl) into her arms, (she) began crying heavily.”

Then the girl’s stepfather arrived and tried to attack Gonzales, but police stopped the fight, authorities say.

Gonzales pleaded guilty to kidnapping in February.

Chacour Koop is a Real-Time reporter based in Kansas City. Previously, he reported for the Associated Press, Galveston County Daily News and Daily Herald in Chicago.

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