Mission Valley

Mission Valley Mall kidnapping arrestee also charged in second kidnapping: SDPD

Police said a second kidnapping this week took place Thursday afternoon at the Mission Valley Mall

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A man suspected of kidnapping a young girl this week at Mission Valley Mall was taken into custody by San Diego police after a freeway stop Thursday afternoon. The suspect is also charged with another kidnapping that was reported Thursday at the mall.

Rene Lujan, 42, was located by police on state Route 94 between Interstates 15 and 805 on Thursday, police said, after the vehicle he was driving was located with the assistance of digital license plate readers.

Lujan faces two counts of kidnapping for the separate incidents at Mission Valley Mall.

the 42-year-old was arrested with a license plate reader’s help. NBC 7's Shandel Menezes explains what happened.

The suspect's father spoke with NBC 7 following the arrest and said his son has struggled with mental health issues and showed sympathy for the victims. He added he feels his son is in a “better place now” for what he’s going through and hopes he can get help.

On Tuesday, a 6-year-old girl was pushing a stroller with her 8-month-old brother inside, walking behind her mother in front of Buffalo Wild Wings when a man came up behind her, grabbed her by the shoulders, picked her up and walked 4-5 feet, according to the San Diego Police Department.

The girl cried out, prompting her mother to turn around and confront the suspect, who said he believed the girl was someone else before he walked away and drove off, police said. The mother and her daughter then went to speak with security at the nearby Target store, where the mother called 911, according to SDPD Lt. Bryan Brecht.

In the second incident, which took place around 2 p.m. Thursday, a girl about 5 years old was picked up by the suspect, who attempted to carry the child away and place her into a vehicle, Meyer said.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports from Mission Valley, where police say the suspect tried to take the child with the mother nearby. 

The car driven in Thursday's incident was reported only as black, which, Meyer said, is consistent with the car the suspect fled the mall in on Tuesday: a black 2013 Chevy Volt with the license plate 7VBS762, which is the vehicle pulled over on SR-94.

Lujan was also charged with the second kidnapping.

The Chevy Volt suspected to be driven by the kidnapper pulled over on SR-94 on Thursday.
The Chevy Volt suspected to be driven by the kidnapper pulled over on SR-94 on Thursday.

Meyer said the children were traumatized.

"We as a county provide quite a bit of resources for victims of crime," Meyer said.

Court records also show Lujan has been arrested and charged in at least two other cases in 2000 and 2009 for other unknown crimes.

The scene at the Mission Valley Mall on Thursday
The scene at the Mission Valley Mall on Thursday
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