BELLINGHAM - A Parkview Elementary School student reported a man tried to abduct her while she walked home from school Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 15.
The 10-year-old girl told police she was walking home alone at 3:50 p.m. in the 700 block of West Indiana Street - right around the block from the school - when she saw a man standing beside a large black van with tinted windows. He ordered her to "get into the van," said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young. She screamed, "No!"
The man briefly chased her before turning around, hopping into the driver's seat of the van and driving off. She described the suspect as a 5-foot-7 or 5-foot-8 Hispanic man in his 20s, with short dark hair tucked under a beanie. He wore a gray T-shirt, gray shoes and tan shorts. She didn't recognize him. The back of his van had a single window.
Nobody else saw the actual crime, Young said, but at least one witness saw the girl frantically running from the scene. She told a sibling what happened, then they told an adult.
"The student did a great job by telling someone right away," said Bellingham School District spokeswoman Tanya Rowe.
On Wednesday, teachers and staff were reminding students how to stay safe while walking home from school, Rowe added. About 260 students go to Parkview Elementary.
Police don't know the license plate number of the van or in which direction it sped off. Tips should be directed to Bellingham Police Detective Jana Bouzek at 360-778-8826.
STATEMENT FROM PARKVIEW
Parkview Elementary School Principal Jane Tromburg sent the following message to parents on Wednesday:
"I wanted to make you aware that last night on the way home from school, one of our students was approached by a stranger in the neighborhood near Meridian and Indiana Streets. I learned more about this incident this morning, and wanted to take this opportunity to remind you about general safety steps.
"Our student did a great job by not going with the man who approached her in a black van. She then told her brother, who told their mom, who contacted police. As of this time, no one has been arrested. If you have any information that will help police in their investigation, please call 911.
"I have been communicating with police and want to remind you to review some precautions with your children:
" Tell an adult immediately if they see someone or something that makes them worry or feel uncomfortable.
" Stay with friends. Don't travel alone.
" Always stay in well-lit, well-supervised areas.
Student safety is our top priority. Ive alerted our staff and will also remind students today about these safety measures. Thank you for your assistance."