Witness pulls out gun, stops suspect from kidnapping 11-year-old girl, police say

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Police need your help finding a man who they say tried to kidnap an 11-year-old girl while she was walking to school.

A lot of parents say they are definitely keeping a closer eye on their kids after a girl reports she was almost kidnapped at Village Meadows Elementary School. The school sent out a letter saying this incident is a reminder about the importance of talking to children about what to do if a stranger approaches them, which is displayed below.

According to Sgt. Tommy Thompson with Phoenix police, the suspect approached the girl from behind, grabbed her arm and pulled it behind her back and put his arm over her face while she was walking to school near 19th Avenue and Bell Road on April 3.

When the suspect started talking to the girl, a witness knocked him down and told him to leave the girl alone.

The witness then pointed a handgun at the suspect and told him to leave.

The suspect ran westbound on Morningside Drive.

Police say the suspect is a black man with a very dark complexion, green eyes and has a stud-style nose ring. He was wearing a black hoodie.

Meanwhile, neighbors are reacting after hearing of the incident.

"I'm kind of shocked at it, really," said one person.

"Normally, that doesn't happen in this kind of neighborhood. As you can tell, it's kind of quiet," said another resident.

Parents are on edge after the incident. "I was scared and nervous," one parent said. "But I try to stay with my daughter at all times."

Parents at Village Meadows are now taking extra precautions with their own sons and daughters. "I talked to her that day," one parent said. "Right after school."

Meanwhile, police officials say they have increased patrol in the area.

If you have any information, please call Phoenix police at 602-5345-2121 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.

Si tiene alguna información sobre este caso, llame a la línea de Testigo Silencioso (480-TESTIGO, 480-837-8446).

Silent Witness: www.silentwitness.org

Letter to sent home with Village Meadows Elementary School students:

Dear Parents & Guardians,

The safety of your child is a priority of Village Meadows Elementary School and the Deer Valley Unified School District. With that in mind, there is some information that we feel is important to share with you as we work together to maintain a secure campus and safe community for our students.

A student reported to a Village Meadows teacher that on Wednesday, April 3, while walking to school, she was grabbed by a man from behind. A witness knocked the man down and told him to leave the student alone. The student was able to safely and quickly get away from the man. The suspect was last seen running westbound on Morningside Drive. Phoenix Police are investigating this incident and describe the suspect as a black male with a dark complexion, green eyes, and a stud style nose ring in his left nostril. He was wearing a black hoody.

This incident reminds how important it is to talk to children about what to do if a stranger approaches or if they witness suspicious behavior. Please take a moment to share these safety tips with your child:

*Always walk or ride in groups

*Pay attention to your surroundings

*Do not talk to strangers, if approached

*If approached, run away immediately, and tell a parent, school staff member or call 911

*Do not wait for parent pick-up/rides home in areas outside of campus that are not supervised

Phoenix Police has issued a media advisory and will be monitoring the area around the school where students walk to and from school. We will continue to watch for strangers near campus and report them to police. If you have any information or see suspicious activity, contact the Phoenix Police immediately at 602-534-2121.

Thank you for your support towards creating a safe, orderly, and caring environment at Village Meadows Elementary School.

Melissa Weinman