VISTA, Calif. — The video from a North County Costco parking lot from Saturday, Sept. 19 has gone viral on social media and caused outrage.
On Friday, newly released surveillance video had some questioning whether it was justified.
The video shows a man walk up to an SUV and try to open the back passenger door where there was a small child inside. A mother is shown jumping out of the still slowly-moving car and fighting him off. Seconds later, a male passenger runs after the man.
The child in the back seat of the vehicle was a two-year-old little boy. The driver of the SUV was his mother, Jennifer Lawson.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life. I think I did everything right. I think my fiancé did everything right," she said.
Soon after the event took place, others in the parking lot thought the stranger was trying to kidnap the boy.
The initial video, released earlier this week, only showed the aftermath – with Lawson’s fiancé and the father of the young child, and an angry crowd – confronting the man as he was arrested by police. On social media, people were outraged.
On Friday, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released new surveillance video showing the man walking up to the vehicle and opening the door and then closing it.
“The people who were the witnesses told us that he clearly reached his hand in there or tried to take our kid,” Lawson said.
She says she jumped out and everything happened so fast. All she could think of was protecting her child.
“So, that’s why we said he touched our kid. We were told he touched our kid,” she said.
The Vista Sheriff’s substation released a statement stating:
It is understandable that anytime an incident involves a child in the vicinity of an event, it can produce fear and anxiety on the part of parents and community. This is why law enforcement prioritizes these cases and focuses on the evidence.
In this case, based on the video and other evidence gathered as part of our investigation, the Vista Sheriff’s Station believes there is no ongoing threat or danger to our community’s children related to this incident.
Still, that won’t change the minds of many parents alarmed by what happened.
“It was the scariest moment of our lives and I don’t want other families to go through that,” Lawson said.
Lawson made it clear they did not come forward for attention. She simply wanted to remind parents to be aware.
“Just make sure people are so aware of everything,” she warned others.