Woman pretends to be teacher to kidnap 4-year-old in Calif., police say

Police: Woman poses as teacher to try to kidnap 4-year-old in Calif.

ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KCRA/CNN) - A California woman is accused of pretending to be a teacher to kidnap a child.

Aileen Caringal sits behind bars Friday, after police said she tried to take a 4-year-old boy outside Cooper Elementary School during morning drop-off.

Her family said she's mentally ill and shouldn't be treated like a criminal. Brian Caringal, her son, said they were as shocked as the community to hear the update from police.

"I was absolutely heartbroken, because everyone that reads that link doesn't know her story," Brian Caringal said. "She's a mother that's raised me and raised an outstanding daughter."

He went to the same school years ago. Police said his mother grabbed a boy by the hand, saying she was a teacher, and walked him toward her house while calling him “Brian.”

"She had probably mistaken the little boy as being me," Brian Caringal said.

Her husband and son said the former nurse has suffered from mental health issues for decades and has been hospitalized, sometimes involuntarily, because of it.

"I just hate to see that, the fact that when people read that article or hear the story that she's a monster," her son said. "But when I see that, I see a mother who's just loving and was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police arrested her at her home across the street after she ran away. The school district said its security measures worked.

"We have the right people in place, and we have an amazing police department that is willing to drop anything that they're doing to come help us because they know our children come first," said Elaine King, with Vacaville Unified School District. "And that's exactly what happened this morning."

Aileen Caringal is behind bars on $250,000 bail and faces kidnapping charges. Police and school officials also want a judge to order a restraining order, since she lives so close to the school.

Her family has apologized for the incident.

As the school spokesperson commended police, officers said it was a community effort.

They said the boy's stepfather grabbed him away, as others called police to report her erratic behavior.

"It's because everyone got involved," said Lt. Mark Donaldson, with Vacaville police. "People were seeing something that was unusual, concerning to them. They called police, which got us responding to that area. We want you to call us in those situations for this very reason."

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