Mother, good Samaritans fight parolee trying to steal car with 3 kids inside

STOCKTON, Calif. (KOVR/CNN) - Police say a 22-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly tried to steal a California mother’s SUV while her children were in the back seat.

Mother Patricia Ontiveros and her three children were delivering supplies Sunday evening to their taco truck in Stockton, California, when a man without a shirt jumped in the SUV. Isaiah, 11, was sitting in the back with his two younger brothers, ages 6 years and 5 months.

"I was in my mom’s car, playing my game, and then, out of nowhere, some guy just hopped into the back,” Isaiah said.

Fearing for her children’s safety, Ontiveros fought back against the suspect, hitting him and honking the horn to alert her husband. Police say the mother’s quick thinking was key in bringing the frightening situation to an end.

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Surveillance video shows the tense moments when Ontiveros’ husband and a group of good Samaritans snatched the suspect out of the SUV. They then held him on the ground until officers arrived.

Police identified the suspect as 22-year-old Elijah Cervantes. He was hospitalized before being booked on charges of attempted carjacking. It was later discovered he was on parole for robbery.

Joe Silva with the Stockton Police says that when Ontiveros honked to get someone’s attention, she likely saved her family’s lives.

"We want them to do almost exactly what this mother did,” he said.

However, Ontiveros credits her husband and the good Samaritans for making the difference.

"I thank God. It’s a blessing we’re here and nothing happened. Imagine if he would have had a gun or a knife or something,” she said.

The family is now healing from the traumatic experience.

“I feel thankful, very thankful, that they were there,” said Isaiah of the good Samaritans.

Copyright 2019 KOVR, Stockton Police Department via CNN. All rights reserved.