RIVERSIDE, Mo. - Students, parents and administrators in the Park Hill School District are on high alert again. A man is on the loose after he tried dragging a seventh-grade girl into a wooded area as she walked to the school bus Monday morning.
The attempted abduction happened around 6:30 a.m. near the intersection of Northwest Gateway and Mandan in Riverside, Mo. Witnesses told Riverside Police the man, who was at first wearing a ski mask, was dragging the Lakeview Middle School student into a wooded area.
A woman driving on Gateway stopped to help the girl as a man walking his dog also came to the girl's aid. The suspect then ran off into the woods and has not been seen since.
Witnesses said he is of Hispanic descent, in his late twenties or early thirties, approximately 5'8" tall, between 150 and 170 pounds. He also has a thin goatee.
Riverside Police are stepping up patrols near bus stops in response to the crime.
Christina McCleary, the mother of the girl who was attacked, pleaded that other children be on the alert after the incident.
"My daughter is very lucky, thank God for the people that scared that man away from my daughter. I hope they find this man so he can not attack any more kids," she said a statement provided to 41 Action News Monday night. "For all the kids that will be waiting for the bus in the morning, please buddy up with other kids be safe."
Michele Poirier lives in the neighborhood and has a son in the Park Hill School District. She's glad the girl -- who was uninjured -- got help, but still has concerns.
"If he gets somebody else; if he gets away and goes off somewhere else; if he's got those intentions," Poirier explained.
This is Park Hill's fourth and most serious reported "stranger danger" case this school year.
"These types of incidents, they happen everywhere. And we go out of our way to notify our parents through mass media," said Park Hill director of student services Josh Colvin.
He said the communication is creating heightened awareness, and that it's paying off.
"We like the fact that our community has their eyes open, and they're listening," Colvin said.
Anyone with information that can lead to an arrest is encouraged to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.