New Mexico high school wrestler pins down suspected kidnapper at convenience store

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A Mayfield (N.M.) High School student is being lauded as a hero after helping to stop an alleged kidnapping and assault by pinning a man to the ground until authorities arrived.

Daniel Arroyo Beltran, 22, of Phoenix, was arrested by Doña Ana (N.M.) County Sheriff’s deputies Wednesday after witnesses say he tried to kidnap three children at Chucky’s Gas Station in Doña Ana. He’s also accused of assaulting several patrons and employees who tried to intervene.

Beltan is charged with four counts of battery, two counts of assault, two counts of child abuse and one count of kidnapping. 

The seemingly random attack didn’t end until Canaan Bower entered the affray and was able to control Beltran, within seconds, according to witness statements.

Bower, 16, won a district championship in the heavyweight division (285 pounds) on Feb. 16, and later competed at the state tournament.

Chaotic scene

Chucky’s Gas Station is a Greyhound bus drop-off point and about 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, a woman told authorities she just got off the bus along with her three children, ages 9, 2 and 1, and was waiting for her Uber to arrive when she noticed Arroyo staring at her family.

The mother told authorities the man eventually approached and grabbed a hold of the 2-year-old’s arm and demanded the woman give him her children.

There’s no indication in police reports that Arroyo knew the mother or her children.

The mother kicked Arroyo, according to court documents, and Arroyo responded by punching her in the head. The woman told authorities she fell backward, on top of her 1-year-old son who was strapped into a carrier on her back.

Bystanders attempted to intervene, according to court documents. Arroyo is accused of punching a man and attempting to hit a woman who were trying to help outside.

At some point, the mother and her children were able to rush inside the store. A man inside attempted to hold the doors closed, court documents say, but Arroyo allegedly pushed the door open with enough force to knock the man down. Arroyo is then accused of punching the man in his face.

Witnesses told authorities that Arroyo punched two other women who were inside while running around the store yelling, “give me the kids.”

By this time, the mother and her children were hiding in an employees-only room, witnesses say.

To the rescue

Canaan Bower was filling up his truck with gas at Circle K when he noticed the commotion across the street at Chucky’s. Troy Bower, Canaan’s dad, told the Las Cruces Sun-News that his son soon realized that something wasn’t right.

“Punches were being thrown and (he could hear) screams of terror, so he jumped in his truck and went across the street,” Troy said. “By the time he got there, they had gone inside and so he got out of his truck and went inside — and there was a whole bunch of blood all over the floor.” 

Troy said Canaan told him he witnessed a woman on the phone, screaming for authorities to help, and a man attempting to kick down an employees-only door.

“So my son — who just won the wrestling district championship weeks ago — just came up behind this guy and body-slammed him and got him in a chokehold and waited for the police to show up,” Troy said. 

Troy said he isn’t surprised by his son’s response, because Canaan has always had a heart of gold, but he’s also terrified.

“I wanted to wring his neck,” Troy said. “You fear for your own child’s safety in that situation. You don’t know if this guy’s maybe got a gun or a knife — you don’t know what this guy’s capable of. I’m sure other people saw what was going on and didn’t get involved. It’s very terrifying that your child put himself at risk but, at the same time, confident that he would do the right thing and succeed in doing it.” 

Follow the Las Cruces Sun-News’ Bethany Freudenthal on Twitter @bethanyfreuden1.