Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

Teens stopped Port Richey man from grabbing toddlers at playground, mother says

PORT RICHEY — It was dusk before Sharaya Smith noticed the time. Soon, the street lamps at Lake Lisa Park would flicker on. Her 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old nephew rolled race cars from their Happy Meals down a winding, yellow slide. That's when she heard him.

A man's deep, raspy voice came from across the park. He seemed to be shouting lines from the Book of Revelations. She made out mention of the end of days and a three-headed lion as he approached.

She spotted the dark figure at the swing set.

"Oh no," Smith, 28, remembers thinking. "Not now."

The man staggered to a palm tree, just 15 paces away.

He wore a dirty tan trench coat and jeans. He had wild, black hair under his beanie, she said, and carried a Bible in his hand.

"I am Obama!" Bienvenido Cintron, 34, yelled at her, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states. "I have been sent by God to rid the county of drug dealers and prostitutes."

Smith looked up to her nephew, Dante Moretti-Taylor, at the top of the slide.

"Dante, jump!" she told him. He leapt into her arms.

By the time she scooped her daughter, Tatiana Ortega, onto her other hip, she said, Cintron was on her.

He chest-bumped her on the back, causing her to lose balance. Cintron grabbed Dante's arm and tried to wrench the toddler from Smith's grasp. He called Dante a drug dealer and Tatiana a prostitute while they struggled.

Then Cintron grabbed Tatiana by the hair and one of her arms, Smith said. She yanked her daughter back and ran into a lit parking lot with the man at her heels.

She called for help.

• • •

Smith and her family members had come to the neighborhood park on Regency Park Boulevard on Saturday afternoon for a pizza party with the children. About an hour and a half before the incident, she said, there was a group of eight or so teens nearby playing loud music on their phones, cussing and kissing.

"We're trying to have a pizza party," Smith said she told them. "And my kids don't need to hear your mouths."

It was rude, she concedes now. The teens retreated to a corner of the parking lot.

Then as dusk descended and the strange man approached, they heard her plea for help.

Three of boys peeled from the pack and surrounded Smith. One stood on either side to protect the children. A third stood behind her with his hand on her back. She said Cintron kept his distance.

Then Smith's brother, Chad, and sister, Jessica Moretti, pulled into the lot in Smith's car. She ran to the door and whisked the children inside. The teens escorted her to a nearby pavilion so she could get her purse and other things.

While she walked, the report states, Cintron circled the car, terrorizing the toddlers and two other 8-year-old children. He knocked on the windows and told them to open the doors. When they didn't, he spat on the car.

Another teen helped Smith into the car. But before she could lock the door, she said, Cintron yanked it open and again tried to snatch Dante. She slammed the door shut and her brother sped away to her mother's house where they would call authorities. Over her shoulder, she saw Cintron headed for the teens.

• • •

A few hours later, Cintron called 911 from his house at 7296 Stone Road, a mile and a half from the park. Authorities found him with two black eyes, a bloody nose and a swollen right cheek. He told a deputy he'd been beaten by a group of teenagers.

Under suspicion that he might be the man that Smith had described at the park, a deputy took Smith to the house where she sat in the patrol car and identified Cintron.

Deputies knew Cintron from earlier that day when he'd caused a disturbance at a nearby Publix. A deputy had taken his information at the scene.

Just after 10 p.m., Cintron was arrested on charges of kidnapping and auto burglary. He remained at the Land O'Lakes jail Tuesday in lieu of $160,000 bail. He declined an interview request from the Tampa Bay Times.

Sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said Cintron wasn't coherent when he talked to deputies and couldn't explain what happened. Tobin said deputies have not determined whether the teens he mentioned are the same ones who helped Smith.

Once they got home, Smith said, Tatiana curled under a computer desk while Dante tried to comfort her. Asked about what happened, both toddlers speak breathlessly about a "bad man" who called them names.

Smith says she's glad she was able to escape with the kids and that her brother arrived in time for her to get them in the car.

She said she wishes she knew the names of the teens from the park. She'd like to thank them.

"I don't think that they realize," she said, "they saved two children's lives."

Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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