Police say 27-year-old Santiago Salcedo grabbed the little girl at the intersection of Baisley Avenue and East Tremont Avenue near a BP gas station around 1:20 p.m. Monday.
Surveillance video captured the heart-stopping attempted kidnapping as eyewitnesses watched in horror.
"She saw him coming closer and she thought he wanted to ask something of her or ask for money, so that's why she wasn't fully aware of what can happen," said the girl's mother, who did not want to be identified. "The kids are OK, thank God, they are too young to fully understand or grasp what happened."
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Thanks to good Samaritans who intervened, the suspect's act was thwarted.
"All of a sudden, this man just picked up the little girl, wrapped her in a blanket, and started running with her," gas station worker Fermin Bracero said. "He didn't get far because a lot of people tried to grab him."
Witnesses told Eyewitness News the man quickly let go of the girl, returned to his scooter that he left across the street, and stared at everyone as they called the police.
Salcedo was arrested and charged with kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and endangering the welfare of a child.
The girl's mother, though, said she doesn't want him to go to jail.
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"He's not mentally OK," she said. "I just want him to get help. I don't want him to go to jail because he's not mentally OK."
He smiled as he was led out of the 45th Precinct in the Bronx Monday night.
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