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Woman poses as teacher to kidnap 4-year-old, police say

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VACAVILLE, Calif. -- A California woman is accused of pretending to be a teacher to kidnap a four-year-old boy, KCRA reports.

Her family says she's mentally ill and shouldn't be treated like a criminal.

Aileen Caringal was arrested after police say she tried to take a four-year-old boy outside Cooper Elementary School during morning drop-off.

Her family is as shocked as the community to hear the update from police.

"I was absolutely heartbroken," said Brian, her son. "Because everyone that reads that link doesn't know her story. She's a mother that's raised me and raised an outstanding daughter."

Police say Caringal grabbed a boy by the hand, saying she was a teacher, and walked him away from school towards her house, calling him "brian."

"She probably (had) mistaken the little boy (for) being me," Brian said.

Her husband says she has suffered from mental health issues for decades and has been hospitalized, sometimes involuntarily, because of it.

Brian says his mother was a nurse for decades.

“I just hate to see the fact that when people read that article or hear the story that she’s a monster,” Brian said. “But when I see that, I see a mother who’s just loving and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Police arrested her at her home across the street after she ran away.

The school district saying their security measures worked.

"We have the right people in place and we have an amazing police department that is willing to drop anything that they're doing to come help us because they know our children come first," said Elaine Kong, a school district spokesperson.

Officers say the boy's stepfather grabbed him away as others called police to report her erratic behavior.

“It’s because everyone got involved. People were seeing something that was unusual, concerning to them. They called police which got us responding to that area,” said Lt. Mark Donaldson. “We want us to call you in those situations for this very reason today.”

Caringal is behind bars on a $250,000 bail.

She is facing kidnapping charges.

Police and school officials also want a judge to order a restraining order since she lives so close to the school.

Her family has apologized for the incident.

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