Forest Acres police officials said Wednesday they will increase police presence in the school zone around Crayton Middle School as they continue to search for a suspect involved in a failed child abduction Tuesday evening.
Police Chief Gene Sealy said police were alerted to a child-abduction attempt after 4 p.m. near Furman Avenue and Lander Street, only a few blocks from Crayton Middle School.
According to Sealy, an 11-year-old student from Crayton was walking home after school when a car pulled alongside him, and the suspect told him to get in the car. After the child refused, the suspect got out of his vehicle, brandishing a box cutter, and forced the child into the backseat. As the suspect began to get into the car, the child opened the car door and began to exit the vehicle.
Sealy said the suspect grabbed the child again and forced him into the backseat a second time, but the child, again, was able to open the door and ran from the suspect. The child was able to locate an adult who was on a walk and notified the individual of the incident. At the child’s request, the individual took the child to his home and notified his parents.
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“It’s very disturbing to know there are individuals in the public like this,” Sealy said. “I am very proud of this child. He handled this in a way that most adults couldn’t. He kept his wits about him and was able to get away.”
Sealy said the child was not physically harmed during the incident, but he was “shaken up” when police talked to him.
Sealy said as result, police presence will increase in the area around the school and in the neighborhoods around the school. Although police patrol the school zone when school opens in the morning and lets students out in the afternoon, the incident occurred a few blocks outside of the school zone where police would be patrolling during that time.
So far, investigators believe the incident was isolated and have not identified a suspect. But, Sealy said they are following up on leads they have already developed.
The child was able to identify the suspect as a mixed-race male, believed to be black and white. The suspect is described to have a heavy build, wavy hair, clean shaven and had an earring. At the time of the incident, the suspect was said to be wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.
Police said they are also looking for a newer model, four-door Hyundai that is red in color. They also said the vehicle was believed to have fled the area heading towards Trenholm Road, however, they do not have a license plate number at this point in the investigation.
Sealy said he contacted partnering law enforcement agencies, including the Columbia Police Department, to help assist in locating the suspect.
Sealy said he urges parents of students that walk to and from school to walk in large groups, or at least with a friend. He also urged that, if possible, students carry cell phones to and from school so they can notify the police when incidents such as this happen.
If a student is in a situation like what happened Tuesday evening, Sealy said he encourages the child to make as much noise as possible to alert anyone around of what is happening.