A baby sitter was arrested after police said she dangled two young children in front of passing cars and then tried to set their clothes on fire.

Michelle L. Tyler, 25, was arrested Sunday about 10 p.m. after Covington Police responded to a call from a motorist that a woman was holding the children in front of passing cars in an attempt to have the vehicles strike them.

Police said that after several vehicles swerved to avoid hitting the children, Tyler took out a cigarette lighter and tried to set the children's clothes on fire. The children, girls ages 2 and 3, were not injured.

Police said the suspect tried to kick out the windows of a patrol car, The Times-Picayune reported Monday.

The girls were barefoot and dressed in light clothing despite temperatures in the 40s (about 4 or 5 Celsius). A police officer placed the crying children in the back seat of a patrol car to keep them warm and bought them some food, Covington Police Lt. Jack West said.

Relatives told police Tyler had recently stopped taking medication for an unspecified mental illness.

She was booked with two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of cruelty to a juvenile, two counts of battery on a police officer, three counts of resisting an officer, attempted escape and criminal damage to property.

The two children, who were not related, were released to their parents, West said.