Man arrested after video shows him punching 9-year-old girl while she walked home from school

HOUSTON – A man has been arrested after police say he punched a 9-year-old girl in the face on May 26.

Yvette Esquino’s 9-year-old daughter Romina and 21-year-old niece Maria Gonzalez are basically sisters. They were walking home from school on West Alabama between Mandell and Dunlavy streets. Both said that the attack was unprovoked and unnerving.

“I love Romina so much, so it felt really bad and I was angry,” Gonzalez said.

The anger came from an unbelievable act caught on surveillance video on May 26 around 4:50 p.m. Surveillance video obtained by KPRC 2 shows the attack. The man is seen walking past Gonzalez and then punching the 9-year-old in the face without provocation.

Gonzalez said the man was screaming obscenities at her before punching the 9-year-old. Both girls said they had not talked with the man and even tried to make the distance, as to not bother the man while he was approaching.

They described the suspect as a man in his 30s wearing all black with dark blonde, shaggy, chin-length hair, a short dark blonde beard, and black shoes.

“I feel helpless,” Esquino said. “Helpless...not being able to protect her and now having to rethink.”

Esquino said her two girls are not walking home from school any longer despite the walk being very short. Esquino said the girls are taking it hard but they are hanging in there. Everyone is shocked.

“It’s a street that we always walk,” Esquino said “We walk our dogs there all the time.”

Romina is now coping with the traumatic attack. Gonzalez said her younger cousin was scared.

“Romina turned to me and hugged me, and I just yelled at him,” Gonzalez said.

A witness stopped to help the girls call the police. Equino said the witness told police that they had seen the man on several occasions walking around the neighborhood.

The family is outraged.

“Assaulting a child is just a whole other level,” Esquino.”I didn’t understand why he punched me. And I was confused but then it started hurting so I cried,” Romina said.

However, Esquino said she was really angry for a few days, and she is trying her best to forgive the perpetrator. However, she hopes the neighborhood is aware.

Romina has a three-inch bruise.

“I’m doing good...but my face still hurts,” Romina said.

Esquino is hoping what happened to her child doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“[I want] for others to be aware in our neighborhood and to have a watchful eye,” Esquino said.

Esquino told KPRC that Romina is doing okay, and is no longer walking home from school.

The suspect’s identity has not yet been released.