SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio mother is hoping to encourage families with a message of awareness after her three-year-old daughter was nearly kidnapped Saturday afternoon.
Kayla Flores said she just finished packing her car up because her family is in the process of moving.
“I grabbed the litter box and was needing to rinse it off, so I turned away just spraying it and I know my daughter were right there just playing around in the dirt,” Flores said. “It literally took not even seconds for my five-year-old Penelope to come run up to me and say ‘Mommy! A man and a woman took Kendall!’ I thought, ‘Who? What!’ I dropped everything and ran.”
Flores said she was in such a panic frantically searching for Kendall.
“I ran to the middle of the road and looked back and forth," Flores said. “I saw the lady first then I saw the man and could see he was holding Kendall’s hand."
"I was like, ‘KENDALL!’ She was like ‘Mommy!’ She ran back to me and I grabbed her and put her in a yard, and I was like ‘Who takes a kid?”
Flores said the man, 47-year-old Christopher Schapira, and the woman, 58-year-old Patricia Benitez, told her that if she kept a better eye on her daughter, the incident wouldn’t have ever happened.
“I am pissed off and I am freaking out and I was like ‘Why would you all take her? Why would you take her?’ He was like ‘We were going to bring her back, so it is ok!’" she recalled.
"So, we are fighting in the road exchanging words and he became the aggressor. I was in my yard at this point and he was in the road and he is coming at me yelling and screaming like it was my fault he had my daughter by the hand.”
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She said Benitez became concerned.
“The lady was like ‘Be quiet! All of the neighbors are going to hear.’ I was like ‘I want them to hear! You all are trying to kidnap my kid!' I didn’t have any protection,” Flores said. “I didn’t have anything, so I just knew I had to protect them and do my best to get my daughter safe.”
She said she got her neighbor to help her call 911 but at that moment, Benitez and Schapira ran off.
“The cops got there, and I told them what happened,” Flores said. “There was so many of them who showed up to help find them.”
Flores said she is relieved that the duo is off the streets, but she is still troubled.
“I just feel like they didn’t even care,” Flores said. “They were trying to blame me when I was right there. They kept saying ‘I was going to give her back.’ No. You were taking her. What do you mean you were going to bring her back?”
She said if they were trying to teach her a lesson, that is the wrong way to do it.
“You do not do that,” Flores said. “That is so wrong. Every kid plays outside. They should be able to play in their own yard without getting grabbed. That should never happen. I just feel like getting their faces out there. You never hear about kids coming back. There are only amber alerts, or they found their kid dead. I am just glad that I have my baby and she is safe, and they can’t do this to someone else.”
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Flores said in that moment, her mother instincts kicked in.
“It was me or them and I am going to go down fighting for my child,” Flores said. “I didn’t care if he beat me up or anything else. I just wanted to protect them and move them out of harm’s way.”
Flores said her fiancé, who was away at the time, is furious. She said her and her children haven’t gone back to the home since.
“He wanted to hurt them,” Flores said. “I am thankful he wasn’t there, and the police showed up and everyone walked away safely because it could have been bad. Unfortunately, now, I have to live in fear for my kids every day to even go to the grocery store,” Flores said. “To even leave my home.”
She said she hopes this encourages families to be careful at all times.
“You never know,” Flores said. “You can be at the store or in the front yard like me. You just never know. The main reason I wanted to do it was to make sure people are aware and don’t let your guard down for two seconds because just like that, your kid can be gone, and you just never know.”
Schapira and Benitez, who are still in Bexar County custody for attempted kidnapping, had their bonds set at $7,500. Flores said she has one thing to say to them.
“How dare you? How dare you take a piece of my family, of my heart, of my everything? Why would you try to walk away and justify yourself with my kid,” Flores said through tears. “You two belong in jail and I never want you to ever come out. Because you are in jail, this won’t happen to someone else’s kid.”