SACRAMENTO—A Sacramento man has been arrested on kidnapping charges after trying to take two children from a church parking lot on Sunday, March 22.
Paul Nelson, 34, is accused of approaching two children, ages 2 and 5, at Calvary Christian Center on Del Paso Boulevard and walking away with them. The children were playing near a picnic area in the church’s parking lot. Members said there were many families at the church for a birthday party and choir practice.
“That lady, one of the sisters, comes in, yelling and crying, screaming, ‘They tried to take my kids! They tried to take my kids,'” said witness Steve Ambriz.
As Nelson walked away with two of the children, a family member, as well as others who were nearby, stopped him and held him down until police arrived, according to police. Several officers arrived and struggled with the man before he was taken into custody.
“We are lucky the suspect did not get away with these children,” said Sacramento police officer Justin Brown. “They were very small children and the suspect could have easily run a little bit faster to get away with the children.”
Church member Steve Ambriz said, “I looked at his face when he was down on the ground and he was on the influence of something because it looked like total evilness.”
Ambriz said Nelson wasn’t a member, but had started to come around the church and was praying with members in recent weeks.
“I took it that he was okay, but now I think about it twice that maybe he was scoping or looking,” Ambriz explained.
George Smith, a deacon at the church, said Nelson is a single father and believes what happened could be a misunderstanding.
“He went through new membership class here. He’s not a molester. He’s not any of that, whatever they’re making him out to be. He’s a good guy. He’s got a good heart,” Smith told the media.
Investigators said Nelson had no relationship or connection with the two boys. They are safe and sound with their families.
Nelson faces charges of kidnapping, resisting arrest and outstanding warrants, police said. No injuries were reported.
Calvary Christian Center has stepped up security, to ensure the safety of their youngest members.