County animal control officers help stop attempted kidnapping of family

According to San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, a woman and her two children (two years old and four months old) received a ride from Joel Valencia, 24, a resident of Bloomington today. The woman told deputies she believed Valencia would drop her off at her residence in Bloomington, but instead, he drove eastbound on the I-10 freeway against her will.

Riverside County Animal Service officers Lt. Luis Rosa and Sgt. Miguel Hernandez noticed the woman waving at them from the vehicle on the I-10 near Cabazon. The officers said she looked to be in distress and immediately called 911.

"She was waving to us, as if to say, 'Help me! Help me!' " Lt. Rosa said. "She must have seen us in our uniforms. He cut us off and got off the freeway."

The two officers then followed Valencia from a safe distance, keeping an emergency dispatcher updated on their location.

Deputies found Valencia's vehicle in Yucca Valley and attempted a traffic stop. Valencia did not stop his vehicle and instead led deputies on a pursuit.

Valencia stopped his vehicle on Deer Trail, near Onaga Trail in Yucca Valley. He was taken into custody without incident. The family was unharmed during the incident.

"We don't know all the details, but today felt very good that we may have helped her out," Lt. Rosa said. "We'll never know for sure, but we feel that we may have saved her life and maybe stopped him from taking his own life. We hope she'll be OK."

Valencia has been booked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga for kidnapping and failure to yield.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Morongo Basin Station at (760) 366-4175. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may contact We-Tip at 1-888-78-CRIME.

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