TACOMA — Tacoma police say a man tried to lure two middle schoolers into his car as the kids were walking to school Monday morning.
The mother and aunt of the kids is angry and want other parents to know it can happen to their child.
The mother did not want to show her identity in order to protect her 11-year-old son and 12-year-old niece who escaped the luring attempt at the corner of 30th and Pearl streets in Tacoma.
“The suspect leaned across the car and rolled down the passenger window and said they were going to be late and they needed to get in the car,” said Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool.
When the kids refused, the man once again insisted they get in the car.
“They said no and started running,” said mom.
They sprinted seven blocks to Truman Middle School and never looked back.
“This can happen to anyone, any age, any place,” said Cool.
In the last three months, at least eight different child luring attempts have been reported in the Puget Sound area, including a close call in Monroe on Monday afternoon. A man allegedly grabbed a teen on her way home from school but luckily the girl got away.
“Report it to an adult immediately. Children now do have cell phones so they can call police departments and report it,” said Cool.
The Truman Middle School students told a guidance counselor about the strange incident hours later. The school has since sent out a letter asking parents to make their kids walk in pairs and fight back if someone tries to grab them.
“The principals make it a point in the beginning of every school year to review those safety tips with their students,” said Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel.
Although federal law requires schools to give kids lessons about online dangers, there are no rules when it comes to teaching them to protecting themselves on the streets. So it’s a case-by-case decision by each district on how they want to educate kids.
“In our elementary schools we have safe walking routes that we publish that is sent to students so parents can see what the safest routes for them to go to school,” said Voelpel.
But the mother says her son is too shaken up to walk to school again until the suspect is caught.
“Do run, scream, do whatever you have to do to get away from the situation,” said the mom.
The suspect is described as a black man with a slight mustache. He is anywhere between 35 to 45 years-old. He was driving a white four-door sedan and wearing a Truman Middle School sweatshirt.