ELKTON — A New Jersey man was sentenced to five years in prison for inexplicably grabbing an 11-year-old girl — whom he did not know — inside an Elkton fast food restaurant last year and holding her until two patrons broke his grip.
Retired Visiting Judge J. Frederick Price imposed a 10-year sentence on Barry Emmanuel Dadamo, 32, of Neptune, N.J., and then suspended five years of it during a Cecil County Circuit Court hearing on Thursday, court records show.
The judge ordered Price to serve five years of supervised probation after completing his five-year term, which Dadamo will serve in a Maryland Department of Corrections prison.
Price’s sentence matched a recommendation made by Cecil County State’s Attorney Ellis Rollins III, who reported that state sentencing guidelines set a penalty range of 18 months to five years of active incarceration.
State sentencing guidelines are based on a defendant’s criminal record and other factors. Rollins asked for a prison term at the top end of the guidelines because, in part, Dadamo has 17 criminal convictions on his record, albeit relatively minor ones, including drug possession and simple assault, he reported.
The judge sentenced Dadamo for second-degree assault, to which Dadamo had pleaded guilty in January as part of a plea deal. In exchange, prosecutors dropped lesser charges of disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.
Dadamo grabbed the girl about 9:30 p.m. on June 12 while she was waiting in line with her mother to place a food order at the service counter at the McDonald’s in the 200 block of Belle Hill Road, police said, adding that all eyewitness accounts indicate that it didn’t appear Dadamo was trying to abduct the child.
Instead, according to police, Dadamo grabbed the girl around the waist amid his rambling, incoherent tirade that investigators believe was induced by drugs.
“It does not appear that he was trying to take the girl,” Lt. Joseph Zurolo, a spokesman for the Elkton Police Department, noted shortly after the incident. “There was a strong odor of marijuana coming from him and we believe he may have been under the influence of some sort of (other) substance. He appeared to be angry for no reason. He had been yelling at McDonald’s employees. He was talking loudly, but he wasn’t making any sense.”
Two patrons — whom investigators have identified only as a 29-year-old Newark, Del., man and a 48-year-old Texas man — quickly came to the girl’s rescue, breaking Dadamo’s grip and then tackling him to the floor, where they held him down until police officers arrived moments later.
EPD Officer Sean Murphy took Dadamo into custody after the two good Samaritans had subdued him, according to police.
By that time, the girl and her mother were in the back kitchen, where they had sought refuge after the patrons forced Dadamo to release the youngster and where a McDonald’s manager called 9-1-1, police reported.
The incident started when Dadamo entered the McDonald’s and immediately started acting unruly, police said. His disruptive behavior included yelling at restaurant employees and shouting in general, yet making little or no sense, police added.
At one point, he walked away from the service counter, police said. When he returned momentarily, police added, he latched onto the girl waiting in line.
“He looked at the (woman’s) daughter and grabbed her around the waist. He squeezed and would not let go. The mother was screaming, ‘Get him off. Get him off’,” Zurolo said.
Several seconds later, as Dadamo tried to grab the girl’s foot, the two patrons arrived and quickly pried the youngster away from him, Zurolo said, adding, “Then they took him to the ground.”
That’s when the mother and her daughter ran to the back kitchen, where they were aided by a manager, police reported.
After taking Dadamo into custody moments later, officers discovered that he was in possession of suspect marijuana, according to police.