A woman who was arrested earlier this week after drugging a toddler with methamphetamines at a Berkeley park has a criminal history and was described as violent and mean-spirited by people acquainted with her.
Sayyadina Thomas, 36, was taken into custody Monday on suspicion of attempted homicide after she walked up to a 2-year-old boy at a playground at People's Park and placed something in his mouth, police said. She is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, according to court documents.
An eyewitness who did not wish to be identified came face to face with the potentially deadly situation.
"He was playing with the nanny in the play yard," the witness said. "She just walked up to him a grabbed him, and she stuck her hands in his mouth."
After the boy's nanny checked his mouth and found nothing, she called UC police to report the incident, and officers and paramedics responded. Thomas initially was taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation, but while en route to the holding facility, she told the paramedics that she had given the child methamphetamines, police said.
The boy was taken to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, where it was determined that the boy had indeed ingested methamphetamines, police said. The boy was recovering in the hospital Tuesday.
Park visitors who know Thomas describe her as mean-spirited and violent.
"She has mental issues," one visitor said Wednesday. "She's highly aggressive; she beats up elderly people."
NBC Bay Area learned Wednesday that she's no stranger to police. Court records show Thomas has been arrested or cited more than 20 times since 2002, with convictions for resisting a police officer and battery with serious bodily injury.
Nanny Pam Valenzuela cares for a 2-year-old herself. She said the attack is a wake-up call for nannies and parents alike.
"You never know who you can trust," she said. "You have be careful everywhere you go. I never let him out of my eyesight."
Neighbor Matt McBryan said he walks his dog in the area daily, but he rarely sees children playing at the playground.
"I know this isn’t the cleanest place, not a good place to have your kids," he said.
Anyone with information about the crime should contact the University of California Police Department's Criminal Investigation Bureau at 510-642-0472 or 510-642-6760.