UPDATE: Attempted Child Luring May Be Linked To December Scare - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: Attempted Child Luring May Be Linked To December Scare

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SPOKANE, Wash - After a man tried to lure an elementary schooler into his car Tuesday morning, school officials are concerned this may not be his first time.

It happened just before the start of school outside Hamblen Elementary in Spokane. The man reportedly came out of the forest next to school grounds, and put his hand on a little girl's shoulder, trying to lure her to get in his car.

"This man told her her parents didn't want her to go to school this morning, and that he was supposed to drive her home," said Hamblen Principal Dr. Rita Forsythe.

The school has a "Stranger Danger" curriculum which helps teach young students how to respond in such situations; curriculum that appears to be working.

That little girl, who is not being identified, is being praised for being brave and smart. She said "no" to the suspect, ran into school, told officials what happened, and had the clarity of mind to give them a detailed description of the man.

He's said to be about 5'11", in his early 40's, with a dark complexion and dark hair, who was wearing light sunglasses and was driving a dark-colored or black SUV.

"What's really frightening is (her parents) had just dropped her off, she walked across the street, and it happened just like that as soon as they drove away," Dr. Forsythe added.

The girl's parents were immediately contacted. They came to the school and the girl finished out the rest of the school day.

A school resource officer was also immediately called, who interviewed the girl and forwarded her description of the suspect and his vehicle to Spokane Police, who are also investigating.

"That little bit of adrenaline kicks in, that self-protection. I don't think she had time to be scared, probably later on when she stops and thinks about it, it might be disconcerting," said Walt Pegram, the district resource officer who spoke with the girl.

What makes this particularly concerning is it's not the first time it's happened at Hamblen Elementary.

Back in December, a man matching the suspect's description and vehicle tried to lure another girl. She also got away okay, but the district is worried if this is the same man - brazen enough to approach a student in broad daylight next to school grounds - he needs to be  caught before he makes another attempt.

Hamblen parents received an automated phone message and a letter sent home with their students detailing what happened Tuesday, and asking them to help keep an eye out for anything suspicious near the school - particularly in the mornings and afternoons when students are walking to and from school. Dr. Forsythe encourages parents not to let their kids walk to school alone, and asks that anyone with information about today's incident call Crime Check at 509-456-2233. 

 

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