SEATTLE — It all started just before 1 p.m. Thursday, and Gatewood Elementary School officials quickly sent an automated voice mail message to parents.
“We received a report from a student that particularly in light of recent events in West Seattle was concerning,” the message said.
School officials say a 6-year-old girl reported seeing a man duct-taping and putting a girl in a large silver pickup truck behind the school. There is a playground back there with a fence that borders the school.
The child described the man wearing a black robe and blue jeans, in his 30s or 40s.
The possible victim was described as 12 or 13 years old, wearing a pink shirt.
School officials immediately feared the worst.
“That is the first thing that on your mind, is here we go again,” Gatewood Elementary spokesman Timothy Chambers said.
The school was briefly locked down and police were called, bringing dozens of officers to the area and parents, too.
“I was panicked, of course, because they’re my kids. As long as I can make sure; I stopped and popped my head in and make sure I can account for my kids and my friends who are at work right now and make sure they’re safe,” Gatewood parent Angela Valdespino said.
A head count was taken and all of the kids were accounted for, and school quickly returned to normal.
“You don’t ever think it’s going to be you and you never want it to be you so once we knew all hands were on deck, then you take a sigh of relief and then just go about your business and make sure everybody is happy and safe. Then it’s like, we have science to do,” Chambers said.
But, police weren’t done yet.
They combed the neighborhood looking for that silver pickup the girl says she saw, pulling over any truck matching that description.
Police said late Thursday night that no child had been reported missing, but, in light of recent events, everyone involved wanted to be extra careful.
“Our policies are in place. No one got in … From the moment we were alerted, we locked the doors. We had the kids in a safe environment and we were patroling the halls,” Chambers said.