WEST VALLEY CITY — The man told police he was just being friendly. But prosecutors are calling his actions child kidnapping.
The bizarre incident outside an IHOP near 3100 South and 5600 West happened last week. A woman was walking to her car while holding the hands of her two children, ages 2 and 6, said West Valley Police Lt. Dalan Taylor.
As they were walking, a man, whom the woman did not know, approached the group, tickled the belly of the 2-year-old, commented on how cute he was and then picked up the child and began to walk away, he said.
"The mom is like, 'Give me back my child,' " Taylor said.
The man appeared to look for his friend, who was still walking toward the car, according to the woman.
"She felt he was trying to take him to the car. She felt because his friend wasn't at the car yet, he let (the boy) go," Taylor said.
The woman contacted police, and based on information collected from witnesses, investigators were able to track the man down and talk to him.
"They found enough probable cause to arrest him for attempted kidnapping," he said.
Octavio Arreola, 26, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of attempted kidnapping and an immigration detainer. After the case was screened by the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office, however, his charge was upgraded and prosecutors filed a first-degree felony child kidnapping charge in 3rd District Court on Friday.