A woman who allegedly tried to kidnap a 12-year-old girl Wednesday morning in Santa Ana was behind bars thanks to a good Samaritan who intervened, police said.
Claudia Cruz Hernandez, 34, was booked on suspicion of kidnapping a minor younger than 14, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Diaz allegedly attempted to abduct the girl about 7:45 a.m. on Main Street at McFadden Avenue.
"I thought I wouldn't see my mom or my dad again," said the girl, Amy Martinez. "She was saying that the demons are coming, Satan is here."
A woman who was driving by was being credited with rescuing the girl. She had just dropped her own child off at a local high school and was headed home when she saw the attempted abduction and called out to Martinez, asking if she needed help.
"I'll never forget the way she looked at me," said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous. "Her eyes were screaming for help."
"She doesn't know if it's a mother having an issue with her daughter, but something doesn't look right because the suspect is homeless and her hair's messy,'' Bertagna said of the good Samaritan. "So she makes a turn, comes around and asked the young victim, 'Are you OK?' and the victim looked at her and shook her head no, and she could see the fright in her eyes.''
The good Samaritan's "motherly instincts kicked in and she told the suspect, 'That's my child, give her back to me.' It took three times of her saying that and the woman let her go,'' Bertagna said.
Martinez's rescuer drove her to her school, where police and her family were called.
The good Samaritan provided a detailed description of the suspect, and police "saturated'' the area and tracked down Diaz, Bertagna said.
"We believe she's homeless,'' Bertagna said. Police have not established any sort of motive, he said.
The corporal praised the girl's rescuer. "We always say if you see something say something. Well, she saw something and did something,'' he said.
Martinez's mother also praised the good Samaritan. "I just want to say thank you so much and I hope that there's more people like you out there," she said.