INDIO (CNS) – A 26-year-old woman who attempted to abduct two children from an elementary school in Desert Hot Springs has been sentenced to eight years and eight months in state prison after pleading guilty to felony charges.
Yessica Chavez Mercado was charged with one felony count each of kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, along with one misdemeanor count of presenting a false ID to a peace officer, according to court records.
She pleaded guilty to the two felony counts Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and was immediately sentenced to eight years and eight months in state prison, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s office.
Officers responded to Bella Vista Elementary April 20, 2021, to a report that a woman attempting to fight with people in the area. Mercado was detained by school staff after she “tried to grab several students as they were dismissed from school,” Cmdr. Corinn Pickett said.
The employees told police Mercado targeted two children, according to Pickett. Her relationship to those children, if any, was unclear. Court papers say one child was a boy and the other a girl.
In a statement shortly after the incident, Palm Springs Unified School District spokeswoman Joan Boiko said parents with children at the school were informed of the incident shortly after it happened.
“The safety of our students is our number-one priority. We are grateful to our school administrators and security officer who responded quickly and were able to detain the woman until police arrived and arrested the trespasser without incident,” Boiko said at the time.
“We let our parents know of the incident through a phone call home and reminded them that their children should always report anything that doesn’t look or feel right to them.”
Mercado was on probation — the three-year term ended Jan. 27 — stemming from a felony robbery conviction, at the time of the kidnapping incident, court records show.
Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.