VACAVILLE — On Thursday morning, a parent dropping off her child at Cooper Elementary School noticed something strange.
“I just went in to take him to class and I came out to my vehicle and the principal and everybody were outside,” Misty Gifford told FOX40.
Vacaville Police Lt. Mark Donaldson said officers were called out for reports of a woman displaying erratic and concerning behavior.
According to police, she was later arrested for several charges, including kidnapping and trespassing, and identified as 56-year-old Aileen Caringal.
“She was taking pictures of cars and of people in the area. That at one point that she attempted to open a car door as a parent was dropping off their child,” Donaldson said.
Officers say Caringal grabbed the hand of a 4-year-old boy walking with a stepparent before attempting to leave the campus.
Donaldson said when the stepparent confronted Caringal, she falsely identified herself as a teacher at the school.
“She began to call him by the first name of ‘Brian,’ which is not the child’s name,” the lieutenant told FOX40.
Lt. Donaldson said the stepparent was able to grab the boy away, shortly before Caringal was arrested at her home across the street on Christine Drive.
“Before police got here, our principal, Tina Ahn, is truly the person that made sure the situation and everybody was OK and felt safe, especially our parents and our students,” Vacaville Unified School District Spokesperson Elaine Kong said.
Nick Wilson, who lives next door to Caringal, said the woman also approached his granddaughter while her mother dropped her off at school.
“She came fairly close to my daughter and then she put her on the other side of her,” Wilson said.
Police officials said they are seeking a bail enhancement due to how close to the school Caringal lives, and they are working with the Vacaville Unified School District to obtain a restraining order against her.
“In my personal opinion, when someone is like that, they don’t know what they’re doing,” Wilson said.