ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A man who deputies said was caught on video trying to kidnap a child walking to school in Orange County was arrested Tuesday, according to sheriff’s officials.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said a tip from a concerned citizen who saw video of the incident led to the arrest of Vinh Nguyen, 37, who faces charges of false imprisonment, luring of a child and battery.
“After he approached and grabbed a child Monday, (he) tried to lure the child to his SUV,” OCSO tweeted. “Detectives want to know if there are other victims. Please call Crimeline at 800-423-8477.”
The incident took place around 8 a.m. Monday near Semoran Boulevard and Dahlia Drive in the Azalea Park neighborhood.
The child, who attends Azalea Park Elementary School but whose age has not been released, was able to get away.
Video shared on Twitter and Facebook by the sheriff’s office showed the man grabbing the child before leaving in what appeared to be a white Toyota RAV4.
[STORY CONTINUES BELOW TWEETS]
ARRESTED: Vinh Nguyen, 37, after he approached and grabbed a child Monday and tried to lure the child to his SUV. He's charged with false imprisonment, luring of a child and battery. Detectives want to know if there are other victims. Please call @CrimelineFL at 800-423-8477. pic.twitter.com/yKWKodjotD— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) April 12, 2022
REMINDER: OCSO detectives are still looking this suspect who attempted to kidnap a child on Monday morning near Semoran Blvd. & Dahlia Dr. in east Orange County. If you recognize this person, please contact @CrimelineFL at 1-800-423-8477. pic.twitter.com/U8P8atsnsG— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) April 12, 2022
HELP ID: Someone tried to kidnap a child near Semoran Blvd. & Dahlia Dr. in East Orange County. The suspect was driving what detectives believe is a white Toyota RAV4. The child was able to get away. If you have information, please contact @CrimelineFL at 1-800-423-8477. pic.twitter.com/KxViWI0lzZ— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) April 11, 2022
According to an arrest affidavit, Nguyen was in the vehicle when he honked at the child and got out of the car to ask the child if he wanted a ride to school. The suspect also pinched the child’s cheeks and told him how cute he was, the report said.
Nguyen offered the child a ride to school again before the boy continued walking to school and Nguyen took off in the vehicle, the affidavit said.
After releasing information Monday about the attempted kidnapping, information was submitted that Nguyen also offered another child a ride last year, deputies said. This led to the sheriff’s office responding to Nguyen’s residence and questioning him. During the interview with detectives, Nguyen asked about the attempted kidnapping incident without being directly questioned about it, the affidavit said.
He told detectives he had seen the boy five or six times before approaching the child Monday, saying the boy reminded him of his younger brother who died, the report said. Deputies said Nguyen “admitted to telling him he was cute and placing his hands on the child’s face,” the affidavit said.
Azalea Park Elementary School on Monday alerted parents about the incident via voicemail.
“One of our students was approached by a stranger in a white SUV while walking to school (Monday) morning,” Principal Karen Verano said. “The student is safe and reported the incident to school administration.”
Verano urged parents to talk to their children about “stranger danger.”
“Remind them to be aware of their surroundings and walk or bike to school in groups,” she said. “If you see something, say something.”
Samantha Gaugler, a parent at Azalea Park Elementary, told News 6 there’s not a lot of main road traffic in the area, so it’s easier for children walking to school to run into issues.
”I walk (my daughter) to school every day. I know a lot of parents can’t, and I see a lot of kids by themselves, but it’s dangerous to do that,” Gaugler said. “I told (my daughter) if there’s anyone that’s an adult that’s making you uncomfortable, I’d rather you hurt the adult and let me deal with the angry adult than for you to get hurt.”
Gaugler said it’s difficult to trust anyone these days because any adult who acts friendly toward children can easily trick them, but she tries not to worry and to prepare her daughter as best she can.
”Teaching what adults they typically can trust (is one way). Like I tell (my daughter) if there’s an issue, to try and run and get to the crossing guard,” Gaugler said. “If (my daughter) feels threatened, kick, scream, get away and find safety because that’s probably her best chance.”