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LA AFB Airman thwarts kidnapping attempt

Lt Torres

Alice Chang, carrying her son, Aris Smith, expresses her gratitude to First Lieutenant Jaime Torres, program manager for the Next Generation Missile Warning System. The lieutenant helped in thwarting a kidnapping attempt of her son in San Pedro in October 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Van De Ha)


First Lieutenant Jaime Torres, project manager for the Next Generation Missile Warning System at Los Angeles Air Force Base, didn’t waste any time intervening when he witnessed a woman in distress last October while driving to work.

“I was driving in San Pedro when I noticed a woman pushing a stroller getting pushed into the street by another woman as I was approaching to make a right-hand turn,” recounted Torres. “The older woman turned to me and asked if I would help her. Just then she noticed a patrol car across the street, waiting for the light to change. I helped her get some distance from the woman who attacked her and crossed the street to get the attention of the LAPD officers in the patrol car and hurried back to ensure the woman was ok.”

That older woman was Lili Chang of Torrance, Calif., grandmother to then 20-month old Aris Smith. Out for their daily stroll, the grandmother was struck on the head and back from a female attacker claiming that the toddler was hers,” described Eleanor Chang, Lili Chang’s daughter and aunt to Aris.

“My mother felt strong sense of relief and trust when Lt Torres said, ‘Do you need help?’ because she was in a moment of powerlessness against the attacker. His immediate initiative to step in had caused the person to momentarily hesitate from taking any further actions. His act of service that day had definitely prevented this potentially dangerous incident from escalating into [further] physical injury to my mother and nephew,” said Eleanor Chang.    

Deputy Ignacio Sanchez Jr, a four-year veteran of the Carson Sheriff Station was one of the responding officers to the scene. “Lt. Torres’ actions on the date of the incident were fundamental in assuring Ms. [Lili] Chang she was safe. Lt. Torres did not only go out of his way to intervene but throughout the course of the investigation. Lt. Torres stood by Ms. [Lili] Chang who was still attempting to calm down,” said Sanchez in an email.   

He goes on to describe Lt Torres’ actions as altruistic and selfless and recognized his composure throughout the course of the incident.  This description is a shining example of the Air Force core values of service before self, and excellence, in action.

“We feel that in our current time, not many people commonly step up to be witnesses or good Samaritans anymore which is why we would like Lt Torres to know that his act of service was very much appreciated. Not only did it impact my mother and my nephew, but also to me and my sister who are overwhelmed with relief that both were safe and unharmed,” said Eleanor Chang.

Torres, humble in his recount of the incident, likes to think that anyone would have stopped to help but did so to ensure help was rendered and is an example of an Airmen living the core values both on-and off-duty.