Parents across San Diego County have been on high alert after a kidnap attempt at Robb Field Ocean Beach.
Police told NBC 7 the incident happened on Feb. 20 during a little league practice. Officers arrested Jarrod West, 28, at the park for approaching a 7-year-old boy and trying to grab him.
NBC 7 spoke exclusively with the boy’s coach, Scott Hedenkamp. Hedenkamp says they were in the middle of practice when he noticed the man watching one of his players and pacing back and forth.
Hedenkamp says the man watched the boy from behind home plate and, at one point, joined the group on the field.
“He had a one track mind, and he was going to take my player,” Hedenkamp said. “I wasn't going to let that happen.”
Hedenkamp told NBC 7 the suspect kept saying the same thing over and over: “‘That's my boy. That's my son. C'mon let's go. It's time to go home.’ My player said, ‘Coach, that's not my dad.’”
Hedenkamp said he put his body between the man and the boy, making it clear the 7-year-old wasn’t going anywhere.
Lt. Kevin Mayer with the San Diego Police Department confirmed Jarrod West was arrested for attempted kidnapping and resisting a police officer.
“[The coach] did exactly the right thing. This situation he’s the guardian of these children. He stepped up and took action,” said Mayer.
NBC 7 also spoke to Brian Burgess, the president of Peninsula Little League. Burgess sent alerts to more than a dozen other leagues across San Diego.
The news traveled quickly on social media among parents of little league players. There were reports of a possible second incident at a Point Loma park, but Lt. Mayer said those reports are unconfirmed.
Burgess said, when it comes to protecting children, “It takes a village. Everyone around here, no matter what league you're in or what school you play for, you need to watch the kids.”
The boy was not harmed and is now safe with family.
West was arraigned on Feb. 25 and pleaded not guilty to the charges. His next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.