By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4)– A mother is telling her story after a stranger attempted to kidnap her 18-month-old baby on the 16th Street Mall last weekend.

Jessica Mefford, 20, spoke to CBS4 from her home in Nebraska. She says she was visiting family and shopping at the Denver Pavilions when, just before noon, a stranger approached her.

Jessica Mefford (credit: CBS)

“He asked ‘Is that your baby?’ I told him she was my baby. I didn’t really think anything of it at first,” said Mefford.

Mefford thought it was odd but things quickly turned scary. The stranger approached her again and yelled at her, saying it was his baby.

(credit: CBS)

“We walked fast and he started walking fast.”

That’s when Mefford said the man tried to grab her child.

(credit: CBS)

“He reached for her and I picked her up and grabbed her and held her on this side of me and I turned around and was telling him to leave me alone.”

Mefford said no one stopped to help and the man continued to pursue her.

(credit: Denver Police)

“He followed me for blocks all the way up… right to my car.”

Mefford was terrified. Luckily, one Good Samaritan intervened.

CBS4’s Jamie Leary interviews Jeremy Hartung (credit: CBS)

“I hear from behind me, she says, ‘Excuse me sir, sir help me!’ and I turned around and she told me what was going on,” said Jeremy Hartung.

That’s when Hartung stepped in between the man and Mefford, and ordered him to leave.

Denver Pavilions (credit: CBS)

“I was just honestly really concerned for the baby because you know I have two kids as well and if my wife was in that situation I would hope that someone would come forward and help,” said Hartung.

Jeremy Hartung (credit: CBS)

Hartung says the man hesitated but eventually walked away. Hartung made sure Mefford and her family were safe and in their car, on their way home.

“If he wasn’t there I don’t think he would’ve stopped,” said Mefford.

The suspect wanted in the attempted abduction (credit: Denver Police)

The man is wanted by Denver Police for attempted kidnapping.

Anyone with information regarding this crime or recognizes the suspect in the picture is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867). You can text to CRIMES (274637) then title DMCS and enter your message or send an e-mail to metro-denvercrimestoppers.com. If the information you provide leads to the arrest and charging of a wanted individual, you can receive a cash reward up to $2,000.

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

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