NORTH PORT, Fla. — Police are investigating what they call a 'serious and credible' attempted kidnapping report.
On Monday evening, North Port officers were called to the area of Berwick St./Harmony Rd. on the southside of Highland Ridge Park about an attempted child abduction that happened around 8:30 a.m.
Police say the man approached the 11-year-old girl and told her to come with him. The girl responded by kicking him and running away to her bus stop. The girl got on the bus but was so upset, police say, she didn't say anything until hours later. The girl ended up telling her afternoon bus driver.
“Their mind has to be messed up because how would they think to even do that to a little child," said Chris Geertgens, a former teacher and grandmother of 11.
Geertgens was impressed to hear how the girl got away. As a former educator she's taught many children about stranger danger.
“We teach them to scream, make as much noise as you can," she said.
William Andrews, a neighbor, said "She did the right thing in kicking him. I hope she kicked him in the right place.”
Police knocked on his door asking if he had any cameras. He says not many of his neighbors do. But authorities did find cameras at Highland Ridge Park. They hope it will help lead them to the right guy.
“It probably scares them [parents] to death. Probably. You know they’d really be on the defensive now," said Andrews.
Parents even more alarmed because of the location. One one side of the park is a Boys and Girls Club and on the other is a church and preschool.
People in the neighborhood fear it could happen again.
"He might try again to another child," said Geertgens.
Police have increased patrolling to help parents and kids feel safer.
The attempted abductor is described as a white male in his late 20s-30s. He is short, with a thin build, bald and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.
He was last seen on foot in the area of Highland Ridge Park.
Police are hoping someone in the community had a video recording device in the area that may have captured the suspect.
If you have any information on the suspect or the incident, please contact Det. James Keller at 941-429-7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference case #2019-02-0209.