Roxanna Ramirez spends most of her time making sure Target shoppers don't steal diapers or beer from her Pittsburg store.
But last Friday, thanks to a "weird feeling" she got about a man in the store that morning, the loss prevention specialist figured prominently in the rescue of an abducted 7-year-old girl she has never met.
On Monday, police lauded the 22-year-old for her quick-thinking actions -- notably, recording the man's vehicle license plate number -- that helped crack the case of a little girl kidnapped Friday night from her Antioch home. Detectives have arrested David Douglas on suspicion of kidnapping, saying the homeless Antioch man followed the girl and her mother from an Antioch Walmart to their home, where he pulled the daughter into his car.
About four hours after the abduction, the young victim was rescued by an Antioch police investigator.
Around 9:50 a.m. Friday, Douglas walked into the Pittsburg Target wearing a backpack, which immediately got Ramirez's attention. She followed him for awhile, later retreating to a surveillance room, where she followed Douglas by camera, she said in a phone interview Monday.
He returned to the parking lot, where he stayed for a couple of more hours, smoking cigarettes, walking around his car, changing clothes and acting strangely, Ramirez said.
"He was being a weirdo outside, and I just got a weird feeling," she said.
Douglas parked his gold Toyota Camry next to Ramirez's car, which further got her attention, she said.
"At one point, he sat in his car and grabbed the steering wheel and started shaking it violently," Ramirez said. "It was kind of scary."
She zoomed the camera in on his car and jotted down his license plate number in the notebook she carries all the time -- just in case. She said the car was gone when she got back from lunch break, and she didn't think about it again.
She went home after her shift, going to bed to nurse a fever. Her girlfriend was checking her Facebook account and mentioned that an Amber Alert had been issued. Her partner read the details, including the car and suspect description, aloud.
"I was like, 'Hold on ...' This was the guy in the store. He looked like that, and that matched the car description," she recalled.
Incredulous, she was reluctant to call police, but her girlfriend told her, "What if that little girl was one of your sisters?"
She phoned police before 10 p.m. with the information from her notebook. Police said the license plate number was used to identify Douglas, who they learned frequented the Antioch Marina. An officer found him there with the physically unharmed girl about 10:45 p.m.
"What she did was what truly broke the case," said Antioch police Lt. Tammany Brooks. Detectives went to her house to congratulate her, waking her up.
"That's when my heart started jumping, and I was feeling great that I helped bring the little girl home," she said.
Police also clarified the role of Le Shay Burks, who had spoken to this newspaper and many other media outlets saying she came across the kidnapper and the girl and flagged down police. On Monday, Brooks said Burks did not arrive at the scene until after an Antioch investigator had taken Douglas into custody.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.