How Teacher's Aide's 'Gut Instinct' Stopped Alleged Kidnapping

"I just got this little sick feeling in my stomach," she said.

ByEmily Shapiro and Sabrina Peduto
October 19, 2015, 4:41 PM

— -- An elementary school employee was using her "gut instinct," when she jumped into action to save an 11-year-old girl from an alleged kidnapper in Antioch, California, the principal said.

Sutter Elementary School teacher's aide Sandra Ferguson was on her way to work Friday when she noticed a student in a car with a man.

"It didn't feel right," said Ferguson. "And, you know, I went to check things out."

"The student had gotten into the person's car. I just got this little sick feeling in my stomach," she said.

"I asked her, 'Sweetheart, is that your dad?' And she told me, 'no.' That's when I said, 'uh oh, that's not right' ... I told her to get out," said Ferguson. She then blocked the suspect's car with her own and called police.

The Antioch Police Department said the man, later identified as 51-year-old Santiago Salazar, had followed the 11-year-old girl as she was walking to school and lured her over to his car.

The girl walked over to the car and Salazar opened the passenger door from inside, police said. Salazar then allegedly grabbed the girl by the wrist and pulled her inside, said police.

The Antioch Police Department, who only identified the woman who reported the kidnapping as an "employee of Sutter Elementary School," said the employee was familiar with the girl, and when she saw the two in the car, she knew that the man wasn't related to her. The employee then used her car to block the man in and called police.

Responding officers determined that Salazar "was not known to the victim," police said, and Salazar was arrested on a charge of kidnapping.

The girl was not injured, police told ABC News.

"Part of being a good educator is following your gut instinct," Sutter Elementary School Principal Debra Harrington said of Ferguson's actions.

"And that's exactly what Sandra did on Friday morning," Harrington said.

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