A man who allegedly tried to kidnap a 6-year-old boy in San Diego on the Fourth of July was caught in the act when his truck wouldn't start -- and he asked a neighbor for help with a jump.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said the bizarre incident happened at around 11:45 p.m. as the victim and his family, who were visiting San Diego, were leaving a party along the 3600 block of Ontario Avenue in San Diego’s Fox Canyon community near City Heights.
The boy had walked out to his family’s car ahead of his parents and was waiting at the door.
Investigators said a suspect, now identified as Michael Mahurin, 52, had driven into the neighborhood in his truck. He saw the boy, got out of his truck and picked up the boy from behind. He put him in the front seat and allegedly told him to lie down and be quiet.
When the would-be kidnapper tried to drive away, his truck's engine failed.
Police said Mahurin asked a neighbor for help jump-starting his truck. Not realizing the kidnapping victim was inside, the neighbor offered jumper cables and began to help Mahurin.
Soon, the boy’s parents came outside and noticed he was gone.
As the family began to search for the boy frantically, Mahurin continued to try to jump-start his truck.
David Khammel, the boy’s uncle, was at the party. He said his nephew’s mother suddenly began to scream when she couldn’t find her son.
“I got up, ran outside, started yelling his name, asking around,” Khammel told NBC 7. “And there were two guys here, both working on their cars, jumping their cars.”
Khammel said the family asked Mahurin several times if he had seen the boy. He said he hadn’t.
When the boy’s father walked up to Mahurin’s truck and shined a light inside, he discovered the boy in the front seat.
The family pulled the boy out of the truck and held Mahurin at the scene until police officers arrived.
“He didn’t say nothing, just, ‘I didn’t put him there; I didn’t know he was in there,’ that’s all he said,” Khammel said.
The family took a photo of Mahurin in case they needed to show it to police.
Mahurin was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and several other counts including false imprisonment with violence, driving without a license and drug possession.
Khammel said the child was scared but wasn’t hurt in the incident. The family, he said, is grateful nothing more happened to the boy.
One day later, jumper cables were lying on the ground near the scene of the crime – a sobering reminder of what happened.
Neighbors, including Omar Ligon, said they were shocked to hear about the brazen crime.
“It’s pretty scary, pretty scary to know that kids are outside by themselves sometimes,” Ligon said. “We’ve really never had an incident like this in this neighborhood, so it’s pretty new and pretty scary, and pretty alarming.”
Mahurin was booked into San Diego Central Jail; he's due in court Friday.
Editor's Note: At Friday's court appearance, NBC 7 learned no kidnapping charges will be filed against Mahurin. Investigators do not believe he tried to kidnap the boy. Mahurin was arrested on an outstanding warrant. NBC 7 has removed his photo from this story, as he is not being charged with the kidnapping crime.