A man who likely saved the life of a 23-year-old woman as she was being maced and abducted in San Leandro Thursday isn't patting himself on the back. He's just glad the victim is safe, he said.
Surveillance footage shows Yong-Sung Leal leaving his apartment complex to go to work around 7:45 a.m. Minutes later, he said, he saw a "small-framed" woman on busy Washington Avenue being dragged into a silver Nissan Sentra.
"She was very brave," the San Leandro man said. "I can’t imagine being in that situation."
Leal explained what he saw and why he reacted the way he did.
"I see the perpetrator trying to pull this girl into his car and while he’s macing her," he said.
The 31-year-old continued: "I pulled her ankle out; her torso was almost in the vehicle. He was macing me, and we were running around his car. Eventually he got into his vehicle."
Leal, who said he weighs just about 150 lbs and stands about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, knew he had to do something the moment he saw what was happening.
"I was saying, 'You know, it's going to be someone. It's going to either be you or me, but it's not going to be her,'" Leal recalled. "I was going to do ... everything I had to do to make sure she was OK."
He said Friday that he decided to speak out about the incident to encourage others to act when something doesn't appear right.
“You don’t have to be tough to do the right thing," Leal said. "Just react."
San Leandro police are searching for the man accused of making a violent attempt to kidnap the woman as she headed to a bus stop en route to work Thursday morning.
Lt. Ron Clark of the San Leandro Police Department called the attack "completely random" and "disturbing." Without Leal's intervention, the victim "could have ended up the next body [dumped] somewhere else," Clark said, adding that "there is no way to know."
Investigators worked with the victim and witnesses to create a suspect sketch. He was reportedly clad in a collared shirt, and jumped out and maced the woman after parallel parking his car, police said.
Leal, who fought off the attacker even after being maced, described the suspect as "very unassuming." He was a "handsome gentleman, well dressed, well put together," he said.
He suspects the kidnapping attempt was "premeditated" because the man was "just yelling, 'She stole my wallet, bro. She stole my wallet.'"
Police are afraid that the suspect, who is on the lam, may strike again.
Detectives have set up a hotline dedicated to this case and are asking people with information to call (510) 577-3259.