“Let go of me! Let me go!” the woman reportedly screamed, before turning to Baez. “Help me!”
What unfolded over the next hour, according to Montgomery County court records made public this week, involved Baez stepping in, the 18-year-old escaping, and the attacker leading officers on a 13-minute foot chase more than a half-mile from the store.
Police arrested Daniel J. Belcik, 26, of no fixed address, in the incident and charged him with assault, attempted kidnapping, kidnapping and resisting arrest. At a brief court appearance Wednesday, Belcik was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Montgomery jail. The attorney who represented him, Christopher Duffner, declined to comment.
Baez said he wasn’t surprised the judge ordered the exam: “The thing that creeped me out the most was he didn’t say anything. He had a very deadpan expression.”
Belcik had fled the garage with a bag that contained condoms and an opened folding knife, police said. “Belcik advised he was attempting to take her to another parking garage,” detectives asserted in court papers. “Belcik stated he just wanted to see where it went with the victim.”
Police reported no serious injuries from the incident.
Reached in Texas, Belcik’s father, Norman, said his son has suffered from schizophrenia and has been homeless in recent years, popping up in Austin, Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Louisiana, Mexico and now Maryland.
“We had no idea where he was,” said Norman Belcik, who expressed relief his son was being held in what for him was a safer place.
“Hopefully they either put him in a mental hospital or incarcerate him because he’s no good in society right now,” the father said. “He cannot be let out on the streets anymore. That’s just common sense. We’re lucky. The girl is lucky. Everybody is lucky here.”
Norman Belcik put blame on his son — for constantly refusing to take medication, for what he is alleged to have done in the parking lot — but had strong words for the nation’s mental health apparatus as well. Daniel had been in and out of hospitals, he said, and repeatedly released too soon. He said he begged hospitals not to release his son.
“Mental illness is terrible,” Norman Belcik said. “And that’s what we’re dealing with here. But these hospitals need to not let these guys out, we pay our taxes for that reason. They’re letting people out on the streets and then they’re wondering why crap like this happens. Don’t let him out. He ain’t ready.”
The incident began when the 18-year-old and her friend pulled into the Target parking garage, off Bou Avenue near Rockville Pike, about 8:20 p.m. on Monday, according to court papers. As they walked to the store, police said, the two noted a suspicious-looking man staring at them. The two went in, shopped for about an hour and came out to load their purchases into the back of their car.
“The same suspicious male rushed towards” them, detectives said in court filings. He grabbed the 18-year-old’s left wrist “and started pulling her towards the north exit . . . approximately 40 feet from where she was originally standing at the rear of the vehicle,” the documents state.
“Baez heard [the victim’s] screams and approached them,” detectives alleged.
Baez said as he approached, he could see the victim’s friend tugging on her other wrist, trying to keep the man from getting away with her.
“Let her go!” Baez yelled at the man.
Belcik did so and then approached Baez, charging documents said.
Listed in court records as 6 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, Belcik allegedly began kicking Baez, who said he is 5-foot-10 and 260 pounds. Baez said he gave him a slight shove but the man kept kicking.
“Kick me again! Kick me again!” Baez recalled saying, hoping that doing so would continue drawing his attention away from the two women.
To Baez’s surprise, the man suddenly stopped his attack and fled.
In Maryland, the crime of kidnapping does not require the victim be moved a great distance. It specifically forbids a person from using “force or fraud” to carry a person with the intent to have the person “carried or concealed,” according to longtime attorneys in the state.
“Carrying is the only act required,” said David Moyse, a lawyer not involved in the case. “After that, it’s a matter of the intent. So, if the suspect was dragging her to hide her, then technically that could be kidnapping.”
Reflecting on his intervention, Baez said he initially was worried — not knowing if the man was armed. But he also felt a certain rage.
“Trust me. I wanted to hit him. I really did,” Baez said. “It was more like mitigation of risk. When it comes to physical altercations, you never know.”
Two other things struck Baez as bizarre: The man launched a brazen attack in a relatively crowded parking lot, yet fled so quickly when confronted.
The IT specialist, who works for a company that handles technology for restaurants, said he didn’t do anything extraordinary.
“If the guy was a little more violent to me,” he said, “I’d feel a little more heroic.”
Alice Crites contributed to this report.