A man has been arrested for allegedly trying to kidnap a girl who was walking home from school in Riverside County.
The incident has left parents shaken and concerned for their children’s safety as the attempted kidnapping happened less than two miles away from two Moreno Valley schools.
The victim, a 12-year-old girl, was walking home from Sunnymead Middle School when the suspect approached her, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Students’ parents received an alarming notification warning of the attempted kidnapping, although details weren’t immediately clear.
“I found out online, basically through Instagram,” said Christina Valadez, a parent. “I was also told via email, but they were pretty vague.”
The message stated there was “an unknown vehicle that approached the student after school” and that the person had a “weapon-like object.”
It wasn’t until the sheriff’s department released a full statement that parents learned the incident involved an armed man asking a 12-year-old girl to get inside his truck.
The attempted kidnapping happened on Jan. 18 near the area of Dracaea Avenue and Graham Street around 1:20 p.m., authorities said.
As the victim was walking home, the suspect suddenly stopped his vehicle next to her.
“The truck pulls alongside her and starts speaking to her from inside, and yells out the window in Spanish while pointing a black handgun at her, [saying] ‘Get in the truck. I won’t hurt you,’” deputies said.
That’s when the girl ran across the street where two good Samaritans helped her contact authorities.
The suspect was described as a Hispanic man with a medium build, dark-colored hair, a mustache and a goatee. His vehicle was described as a dark green Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with tinted windows.
“It doesn’t surprise me but it’s very scary because in this day and age, you can never be too surprised about anything that happens in this world,” said a local resident.
“It was very scary for me,” said Sara Munson, a Sunnymead Middle School parent. “There’s a lot happening in this area and this was kind of the icing on the cake for me.”
Munson said following the attempted kidnapping, she pulled her 12-year-old son out of the Sunnymead Middle School for good.
“He has other issues as well, and this just solidified my concerns,” said Munson. “I’d rather just have him safe at home, doing homeschool.”
Officials said the 12-year-old girl was unharmed during the attempted kidnapping.
Although an arrest has been made, the suspect’s identity has not been released.
Authorities believe there are additional victims and are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect or experienced similar crimes in their community to contact Investigator Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Moreno Valley Station at 951-486-6700.
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