Petaluma police probe ’suspicious circumstances’ after mom reports child kidnapping
Police are searching for two persons of interest in what a Sonoma County woman described in a pair of viral social media videos as an attempted kidnapping of her two children last week at a Petaluma shopping center.
Petaluma Police Department was investigating the woman’s report as a “suspicious circumstances” case as of Monday night, noting inconsistencies between her account to officers and information she provided in the videos, police said in a prepared statement.
The woman, identified in a KTVU Fox 2 television report as Katie Sorensen, posted the videos on her Instagram page on Sunday. By late Monday afternoon, they had received about 4 million views combined before they were removed sometime after 8 p.m. They were replaced with a note saying they were deleted to protect “my family and the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”
In the videos, Sorensen described being followed Dec. 7 by an unknown man and woman at the Petaluma Michaels craft store on North McDowell Boulevard, from the time she arrived in the parking lot with her children until they returned to her car.
The pair trailed her through the store as she pushed her young son and daughter in a double stroller and appeared to be describing her children to someone on the phone, Sorensen said in one of the videos.
In the parking lot, she said they approached her as she was putting one of her children in a car seat in what she suspected was an attempt to grab the stroller. A separate man who spotted Sorensen and recognized she was in danger stepped in to help, she said in the videos. Meanwhile, she said the pair drove off.
Another man also asked Sorensen if she needed help eventually left in a white van that was parked in the spot next to her car when she went into the store.
Sorensen did not respond to several messages from a Press Democrat reporter Monday morning and afternoon via social media requesting an interview.
Petaluma police received Sorensen’s initial report at 10:32 a.m. on Dec. 7 when she drove to the police department to personally alert authorities of the pair’s suspicious behavior, according to the statement police released Monday.
She told officers then she wasn’t looking to have anyone arrested, though she did want to alert them of the “concerning behavior exhibited by the couple,” the police statement said.
Police did not say in the statement what was inconsistent about Sorensen’s personal account of the incident and what she described in the videos on social media. Police did include with the statement a grainy photo taken from the store’s surveillance camera inside the store of the two persons of interest.
On Monday, Petaluma police did not respond to calls or an email from a Press Democrat reporter. Michaels store employees are cooperating with the investigation, police said in the statement.
You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nashellytweets.