Alleged Jersey City park kisser nabbed

June 14, 2010 3:39:24 PM PDT
A quick-acting father who knows judo is getting credit for helping police catch a man allegedly grabbing and kissing children at a park in Jersey City. "My son said, 'Daddy, that's the guy.' I said 'What guy?' He says 'The guy that kissed me,'" Alan Halikias said.

Halikias didn't even know up until then that a stranger had kissed his 6 year old son days earlier while he was playing in Gordon Park.

"They didn't tell me because they knew I would go off," he said.

Since May 23rd, police say several families have come forward with similar stories. All of the kids are under age 11.

"Held their hand, embraced them, kissed them on the cheek, and then when other people came, he just left the area," Dep. Chief Peter Nalbach said.

It just so happens this past Saturday Alan came face to face with the suspect, 34 year old Ailesh Kumar Modi of Jersey City, in the park again.

"The guy tried to walk away and I told him to stay still. Don't leave. He tried to run faster, so I grabbed his arm, tripped him up, put him on the (ground), locked up his legs and I was on the phone with 911," Halikias said.

Police arrested Modi, but he is charged only with disorderly conduct. Nothing more serious, at least not yet.

"We're still looking at endangering the welfare of a minor and possibly a lewdness charge," Nalbach said.

Over the past two weeks police stepped up patrols in the park, even questioning people who fit the suspect's description.

A mother who lives nearby and frequents the park says the stepped effort now needs to be the norm at a park plagued with problems.

"There's always something going on at night you're afraid to walk by shootings, drugs. Police need to be here 24-7," she said.

Neighbors are thanking Alan for what he says was just the right thing to do.

"Any other parent would have done it," he said.

Modi has already had his first court appearance, but police are continuing to investigate.

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