GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are looking for the driver who tried to abduct a 14-year-old girl as she walked to her school bus stop.
The incident happened shortly after 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, after the teen left her home in the 800 block of Sigsbee Street SE en route to the bus stop near Logan Street and Barth Avenue SE.
Police say the girl was with her 12-year-old brother when a male driver left his parked car and approached them, offering to drive the children to school. When the kids hesitated, police say the suspect grabbed the 14-year-old girl around the neck.
The children said a neighbor yelled at the suspect who fled in his car.
Grand Rapids police say they’re working closely with Grand Rapids Public Schools. Police say there will be an extra patrol when school is dismissed Wednesday afternoon.
In a letter sent to parents, Grand Rapids Public Schools Public Safety Chief Larry Johnson said the student “did the right thing” by getting away and reporting the incident immediately.
“We are very relieved that this child was unharmed,” Johnson said before outlining safety steps for all students.
Heather Baker-Jackson lives near the bus stop and is a mother to a young girl who attends a GRPS elementary school.
“I think just knowing our neighbors feels really important to me in this situation,” Baker-Jackson said. “Being involved in our community so that my daughter knows that she’s got people around her that she can turn to if I’m not there.”
Becker-Jackson told 24 Hour News 8 that her neighborhood is a close bunch of people who share a community garden. She said it’s disheartening to have something like this happen near home.
“It stinks because I don’t want to have to live in fear, but hearing something like this it’s certainly something now that is on the forefront of my mind. Just how we move forward as a family and as a community. I don’t feel alone in the process,” Becker-Jackson said.
The suspect was described as a tall male wearing a hooded sweater or jacket driving a dark-colored sedan. Police believe the encounter happened in the area of Sigsbee Street SE between Diamond and Barth avenues.
They are working to make contact with the neighbor who the kids said yelled at the suspect, hoping that person’s help could lead to an arrest.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call Grand Rapids police at 616.456.3604. Tips can also be submitted anonymously at 616.774.2345 or on Silent Observer’s website.