An afternoon in the park turned into a life-threatening experience for a couple of Modesto teenagers.
Police on Sunday received a report at about 4:20 p.m. of a fight involving several people, including one armed with an ax, at Standiford Park on Tokay Avenue east of McHenry, said department spokeswoman Heather Graves.
Responding officers found in the area of Briggsmore and Sherwood avenues, less than a mile from the park, a man matching the description of one of those involved in the fight. The man fled but quickly was caught.
Identified as Alex Garcia, 29, he was found in possession of a hatchet and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, public intoxication and probation violation. "At that time, we didn't have any victims coming forward, just the report of a fight and a weapon," Graves said.
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But about 7 p.m., parents called police to report that their children were victims of an assault at the park, Graves said. The park, known for its Cinderella coach play structure, is frequented by users including families and youth sports teams holding practices.
Officers responded to a residence and learned that two 17-year-old boys, along with a friend, were walking in an area of the park where Garcia was nearby. The teens reported he "walked right up to one of them and punched him in the face, without saying a word," Graves said.
The teen and Garcia fell to the ground in a scuffle, she said, and Garcia broke free and pulled out a hatchet. The teen got up from the ground and began to run. The other 17-year-old also started to run but tripped and fell.
"The suspect was coming at him with the hatchet," Graves said. "He wasn't hit but somehow was kicked in the face" by Garcia. That teen got up and fled.
The third boy was not confronted by Garcia and also ran from the park.
Garcia was rebooked on charges including assault with a deadly weapon, child endangerment, brandishing a weapon and battery.
He also is charged with resisting arrest.
Garcia is being held at the Stanislaus County Jail, with bail set at $210,000.