Neighbors were on alert today as police searched for a man who allegedly tried to abduct a 15-year-old girl as she walked to school in West Toledo.
"It's scary. It's in Sylvania. Now it's over here," said Becci Okenka, of California Boulevard. She added that she often has two granddaughters, eight and 18 years of age, over at her house, and is concerned for their safety.
Police said the victim in today's attempted abduction was not injured.
She was walking down Bennett Road approaching California Boulevard about 7:20 a.m. when a minivan pulled up near her, according to police. The man who was driving it asked her if she wanted a ride, police said.
When the girl refused, he "tried to verbally persuade" her to get into the vehicle, according to a police report. The girl then turned onto California, with the minivan following her, according to police.
Police said that's when a woman who had just stepped out of a nearby house to let out her dogs saw the driver outside the van. At that point, the man took the victim by her arm with one hand and pushed her from the back with the other, police said in the report. The witness, sensing something was wrong, asked the girl if she was alright and when she said no, the woman hurried the victim into her house and called police, the report said.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, about 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing about 120 pounds, with a mustache and a slight beard. He wore a brown coat, white and blue plaid shirt, and gloves and spoke with heavily accented English. He may have a facial scar, police said. An artist sketch of the suspect has been released.
The suspect was last seen driving west on California, toward Burnham Avenue. The vehicle was described as a red or maroon minivan, possibly from the year 2003 or 2004, with tinted back windows.
Ms. Okenka said she was home when the incident occurred and that her dogs were barking at the time. But she had not thought much of it and -- unlike her neighbor -- did not step outside to investigate.
"Maybe I'll start listening to them now," she said.
Contact Mike Sigov at: email@example.com, 419-340-3708, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.