Mission Valley

Mission Valley employee being called a hero for saving girl from alleged kidnapping

The man, who has since been identified as 42-year-old Rene Lujan, was later arrested by the San Diego Police Department

NBC Universal, Inc.

It is a day that Kim Miller will never forget.

“Everybody’s got to be vigilant,” Miller said. “Heroes are coming in all shapes and sizes and ages.”

She is the manager of Inflatable World, an amusement park full of inflatable bounce houses, slides and obstacle courses for kids, along with a snack bar and arcade games. It is located in the parking lot of Mission Valley Mall.

“Thursday we were just doing our normal routine, truly was having a nice day. Not a real busy intense day,” Miller said.

Until she heard screaming and noticed one of her employees, Jazmine, started running toward a car in the parking lot.

“She bolted from her chair and said, ‘kid,’ didn’t finish the rest. I don’t know if she was saying, ‘kidnapping or kid hurt,’ or whatever,” Miller said. “I was kind of blocked by the corner, so when I came around I saw the two girls that I’m always seeing. [I] didn’t see the third girl.”

Jazmine, who asked to be identified by her first name only out of concern for her safety, said just moments prior she was talking with the three girls, then a car pulled up.

“I’m thinking maybe that’s their dad, maybe going to pay or something, real quick, and he comes, gets out of the car, grabs the littlest one, picks her up and walks away with her,” Jazmine said.

Without a second thought, she ran out of the park toward the man.

“I immediately knew something was wrong, so I ran out the door and I grabbed her from him and he just dipped,” Jazmine said. “I did ask if they knew him and they said they don’t know him at all.”

The man, who has since been identified as 42-year-old Rene Lujan, was later arrested by the San Diego Police Department. Lt. Dan Meyer, a spokesperson for SDPD, confirmed to NBC 7 that Lujan is facing two felony kidnapping charges for not only the Thursday incident, but another, very similar one, on the Tuesday prior.

“It’s very scary,” Miller said. “The traffic that we have, the freeway here, the kids and parents coming in and out, all of us with cell phones calling 911, you know, how could he be so brazen?”

“Honestly, I think about it every day,” Jazmine said. “What could have happened if I wasn’t there? If I didn’t get her, where could she have gone? Would she still be alive?” 

Miller now calls Jazmine a "hero" for her actions, and was sure to praise the girls for their response once the police showed up and began investigating, as well. 

“I said, ‘OK girls! You’re so brave! Go to the snack bar, grab whatever you want,’ and they just lit up,” Miller said. “They were just all excited when they came back, Nutella all over their faces. They were great and that was all I wanted to do is just let them know they did all the right things, that they were so brave.”

Miller explained Inflatable World has always been secure, but now they are paying extra attention to the activity outside of their gate.

“We want this to be a fun, friendly place like it’s always been,” she said. “If it was anybody else, I don’t know that they would have acted as quickly or known to do the right thing.”

As for her message to the community, she added, “there’s a stranger right next to you that might save your child’s life. Ours did.”

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