Shannon Carter knew suspected burglars were on the loose in her neighborhood, but she didn't expect to find one stowed away in the trunk of her car.
"It was like out of the horror movies," Carter told ABCNews' Sacramento affiliate News10.
The Sacramento mom took her kids to the movies Tuesday morning and returned home around noon to find officers and K-9 units from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department searching her neighborhood, according to News10. A neighbor told her suspected burglars were thought to be on the loose in the area.
Carter went inside the house to pack lunches to take to the park and recalls leaving the garage open for a few minutes before closing it and locking the doors.
She piled her kids and a neighborhood kid into her seven-person SUV and drove to Elk Grove Park.
"All of a sudden, I look behind and this guy's head comes popping up," Carter said. "It was so freaky. [He] pops up out of the back of the car and my kids are screaming their heads off."
Carter said the suspect repeatedly said, "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise," which she said was comforting in the moment. Carter said the young man told her he had gotten into a fight at school and was just trying to get away.
Carter described him as between the ages of 16 and 18 with a sandy-colored buzz cut.
The man got out of the car and began to run off before stopping to apologize for scaring the children and asked Carter not to call the police. Carter saw him run across the street and ask to use a cell phone from a group of teenagers. After not being able to reach whoever he was calling, he took off.
After he fled, Carter immediately called 911. By the time police arrived, though, the suspect was long gone and has not yet been located.
The Sacramento Sherriff's department was searching Carter's neighborhood after they responded to a nearby call for a burglary in progress. A neighbor saw two males break the window of a house and enter, but the two men ran away before police could catch them. A three-hour search was unsuccessful and the sheriff's office expanded the perimeter of the search to include Carter's neighborhood.
While no definitive connection has been made between the burglar and the man in the car, Sacramento Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Ramos said it is "very conceivable" that the teenater in Carter's car was one of the two suspects who broke into a nearby home.
"Her description of the guy is consistent with one of the people responsible for the burglary," Ramos said. "There's a good possibility that this is one of the guys that got away from us."
Ramos said the man did not show any signs of injury, according to Carter, so his story about getting in a fight "didn't jive." Ramos said the man was probably "not the most sophisticated, seasoned criminal" and was likely panicked about how he would get away.