‘Don’t touch my son.’ LA father says attempted kidnapping suspect approached his son

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A Los Angeles father was feeling rattled Thursday after learning a stranger who had tried to play with his son at a Koreatown park turned out to be an attempted kidnapping suspect. 

Alberto Lopez said he took his son to Seoul International Park on San Marino Street at around 6 p.m. Tuesday. He said, when they arrived , they saw a woman playing with a boy.

“I’m thinking it was her family,” said Lopez, who quickly realized the child wasn’t her son.

The woman, according to Lopez, then tried to play with his son after she was told to stay away from other children by their parents. 

“She tried with my boy. I said no,” Lopez recalled. “I’m scared. I’m worried.”

The woman turned out to be 27-year-old Yara Vanessa Pinena, who was arrested in February for allegedly trying to kidnap a 4-year-old boy at a Target in the Westlake District. 

The woman had grabbed the boy and took him out of the store on Virgil Avenue, police said in a community alert. The LAPD had arrested her a couple of days later. 

It’s not clear when Pinena was released from jail for the February incident.

Update: Per Olympic detectives, on 2/28/2024 around 11:40 a.m., the suspect was taken into custody near the area of Magnolia Boulevard and Tujunga Avenue. The investigation is still ongoing. https://t.co/dFjTxCvKYQ

— LAPD PIO (@LAPDPIO) February 29, 2024

As for the woman’s latest known encounter with the children in Koreatown, after parents at the park started calling 911, she left the area before the LAPD took her into custody again, according to Lopez.

When officers spotted her running from the park toward Normandie Avenue, they confronted Pineda and eventually used a taser to subdue her before taking her back into custody.

No bail was set for Pinena Thursday afternoon.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.