PUEBLO, Colo. - A father in Pueblo says a sexual predator was set free because the jail was too full.
Tim McGettigan is outraged at how Pueblo police officers handled a sexual assault investigation that his daughter witnessed last Thursday. Police wrote the suspect, 39-year-old Wayne Arrona, a ticket for disorderly conduct and then set him free.
The Pueblo Police Department says the officer who wrote the ticket made a poor judgement call. The department is investigating how the case was handled.
It was supposed to be an afternoon stroll to the candy store and a trip to the playground for two teenage girls and a boy they were babysitting. But McGettigan says Arrona sexually assaulted his daughter's friend and tried to kidnap her.
"When we called the police on the night that they had released the prisoner to the streets, we asked why on earth would they do that and the response from the police was 'the jail house is full,'" MGettigan said.
McGettigan says when he heard officers questioning Arrona last Thursday, he heard one officer ask, "What do you think we should do with him?" He then heard another officer reply, "Well, if we could still do four-hour holds, I would take him in."
"A four-hour hold would not be appropriate for the situation," said Deputy Chief Troy Davenport.
McGettigan says the department handled this incident poorly, not just one officer.
"Dispatch didn't alert people according to protocols throughout this neighborhood that there was a sexual predator on the loose. This is common sense," McGettigan said.
By Friday morning, police had arrested Arrona. He faces charges of sexual assault and attempted second-degree kidnapping.
Davenport said, "We did everything we could to correct the problem as soon as we possibly could, and in fact that very night the officer's supervisor was aware of the situation and they were making efforts even then to change the course of events."
KRDO-TV reached out to Police Chief Luis Velez for comment, but he was not available.