A California mother-of-three is being investigated for a possible hate crime over a video in which she claimed a Latino couple made a kidnapping attempt on her children.
Katie Sorensen posted two videos to her account @motherhoodessentials in which she claimed son, four, and daughter, one, were ‘the targets of attempted kidnap’ in a Michael’s store in Petaluma on December 7.
Sorensen drove to the police station to report the couple’s actions and press charges before uploading the videos, which gained her more than 80,000 followers.
After the couple came forward, Petaluma police cleared Sadie and Eddie Martinez of any wrongdoing on Thursday and launched a new investigation into whether the crime was falsely reported or if her social media posts constitute a hate crime.
And the couple and their daughter Esaia Gonzalez accused Sorensen of racially profiling them at a press conference on Friday, who have five children between them and two grandchildren.
California mother-of-three Katie Sorensen (pictured) is being investigated over a video in which she claimed a Latino couple made a kidnapping attempt on her children
Sadie and Eddie Martinez (pictured in CCTV footage released by police), who have five children between them and two grandchildren, have been cleared of any wrongdoing
Sadie said she recognised the picture of herself and her husband Eddie when police released a CCTV still of them.
Speaking at a press conference, she said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we’re literally guilty of being brown while shopping.’
And her daughter Esaia told BuzzFeed News: ‘This isn’t the first racist injustice to occur in Petaluma by a long shot, but we are definitely grateful that in this case the truth was rightfully pursued.’
Petaluma police Chief Ken Savano said: ‘Based upon the evidence gathered to date, PPD launched an investigation into whether this incident was potentially falsely reported. That investigation is active and ongoing.
‘Hate crimes of any type will not be tolerated and will be pursued aggressively. If evidence of a racially-motivated hate crime is found to have occurred we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent under the law.
Katie Sorensen made the videos from her car. She claimed her children ‘were the targets of attempted kidnap’
‘Additionally, we will also seek prosecution to the fullest extent of law, if, at any time during our investigation, we find evidence of a person knowingly and intentionally making a false report of a crime.’
In her initial videos, Sorenson sat in her car as she relayed the claims about Sadie and Eddie Martinez.
She said: ‘My children were the targets of attempted kidnap which is such a weird thing to even vocalize but it happened and I want to share that story with you in an effort to raise awareness to what signs to look for and to encourage parents to be more aware of their surroundings and what is going on around them.
‘I think right now that we are so distracted with everything that’s going on in the world that we are have our guard up so much about masks and wanting to keep out children safe that way that we’re forgetting the most important way to keep them safe and that is with us.
The influencer has it back at criticism. She is pictured here with one of her sons
‘I’m going to share a story in an effort to raise that awareness but I’m not ready, this is hard for me.
‘I’m not ready to share this story but I know it’s important and I would rather be uncomfortable and awkward and get the message out sooner than wait until I feel composed because I don’t know if I’ll ever feel composed talking about this.
She said that she had parked her car far away from the store as she always does on December 7 so as not to frustrate other customers when she took her double stroller in and out but that she would not be continuing to do this after the alleged incident.
‘That is the first thing that I will be doing differently if I ever choose to take my kids out again,’ she said.
According to the police statement, Sorenson said that she noted the suspicious behavior of a man and woman as they followed her and her children around the store and made comments about their appearance.
She told police that they followed her out to her car and lingered by the stroller as she placed her kids back inside the vehicle.
Police said Sorenson had not wanted to have anyone arrested when she filed the report but ‘wanted to draw attention to the concerning behavior exhibited by the couple’.
In an interview with KTVU after she posted the videos, however, Sorenson relayed further claims about Sadie and Eddie Martinez.
‘I heard them talking about the features of my children, but I was totally paralyzed with fear, I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything,’ she said.
She claimed that she had spotted the man looking at her in the parking lot before she went inside and that the couple had stood behind her in the checkout but then followed her outside without buying anything.
The alleged incident took place in the parking lot of this Michael’s in Petaluma
She noted that when she reached her car, a white van was parked alongside her, which she thought was strange given how far from the store she was.
Sorenson also claimed that the couple took two steps forward and then two steps back as the watched her load her children into the car.
‘Very awkward. There is no other explanation to why they would do that other than they were building up the courage’ she alleged.
Sorenson told the station that the man had reached out and grabbed the stroller but that another man walked past at the time and she began to scream for help.
She claimed the couple fled the scene in a car, but a third man emerged quickly from the white van. She said he acted like he was trying to help her before fleeing himself.
‘I saw these people, they didn’t look necessarily clean cut,’ Sorenson told KTVU.
‘I felt uncomfortable around them, and instead of making them uncomfortable with my discomfort, I chose to remain in my discomfort.’
Sorenson told Buzzfeed that she felt very overwhelmed to the reaction to the videos.
She said that she wanted those sending her negative comments to note that she was ‘faced with a traumatic experience, it is impossible to function at full capacity’.
Petaluma police said: ‘To date, the investigation has produced no evidence or witnesses corroborating the account provided by the reporting party [Sorensen].
‘Evidence gathered has served to support the account provided by the couple from the store.’
Sorensen hit back at skepticism over her allegations last week.
‘I had no intentions or underlying motives for sharing my story, other than to encourage fellow parents to always remain vigilant,’ she told Buzzfeed.
‘I hope my family and our local law enforcement will be given the respect and support we each deserve as we continue on.’