Video: Man arrested for attempted kidnapping of young girl near Antioch school released

51-year-old Santiago Salazar


ANTIOCH (KRON) — A man arrested on suspicion of attempted kidnapping of a young girl on her way to school two weeks ago in Antioch is now a free man.

The Contra Costa County District attorney said they will not be filing any charges against Santiago Salazar. Police said the 51-year-old Brentwood man lured the 11-year old-girl into his vehicle, but was thwarted by a teacher’s aide.

The district attorney said there is not enough evidence to prove Santiago Salazar committed a crime. The decision is sparking fierce reaction in the East Bay.

Sandra Ferguson. the woman who has been called a hero for rescuing the young girl out of Salazar’s car, said she was too upset and angry to talk on camera. In one video, she is seen smiling and holding roses given to her for her bravery.

But on Wednesday, tears were running down her face as she showed up to Sutter Elementary School saying, “I’m pissed that they let him go.” Back on Oct. 16, the teacher’s aide saw the 11-year-old female student walking on the street on her way to work and thought she was acting strangely.

“Her body language was weird,” Sandra said. “She was acting off.”

So, Sandra circled back to check on the little girl who, by then, was in a stranger’s truck. Bravely, according to Sandra, she confronted the man.

She blocked his truck with her car, got the child out, and called police. Salazar was arrested, jailed, and then released for lack of evidence.

Other school staffers and parents picking up their kids at school are also upset and confused. One woman’s jaw actually dropped when KRON told her Salazar is a free man.

“Are you kidding me? That’s insane. This whole thing is not making sense. Something is not adding up,” parent Natalie Tapia said.

“How much more evidence do they need? Do they need her to be raped or physically abused or mentally thwarted for the rest of their days?” parent Frances Finley said. “But definitely. he needs to stand up and be counted.”

“To me, if she was in his car, he is guilty,” parent Kelly Castro said. “I don’t know what he was trying to do, but I think it’s ridiculous.”

The Contra Costa District Attorney did not make himself available for an interview Thursday, and he did not allow the prosecutor who heads their sex crimes unit to go on camera either.

But KRON did talk to that prosecutor over the phone. He could not go into details about the case, saying he wanted to protect the girl’s privacy.

But after reviewing the case and talking to all of the witnesses, he said there was simply not enough evidence to show that Salazar had committed any kind of crime.

But he did say that he applauds the teacher’s aide and said if it was his kids involved, he had want her to do the exact same thing.

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