MANDEVILLE, La. - Parents and kids are on high alert after an alleged abduction attempt in Mandeville, but no one is as shaken as David Crawford and his 11-year-old daughter, Denae.
“She was crying, extremely upset,” said Crawford.
Denae was approaching her driveway near Barbara Place and Cambronne Street around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday after getting off the school bus. That's when a man pulled up, got out of his car and asked if she needed a ride home, said Crawford.
When Denae began running toward to her door, the man began chasing her, said police.
“I didn't really think of anything. Just run to the door as fast as I can,” said Denae.
“We're very lucky. I'm just glad that she had enough thought to immediately run in the house and not stop and think about anything. She reacted quickly, so we're lucky,” said Crawford.
The suspect took off before Denae's father realized what happened. And with the perpetrator still on the loose, Mandeville Police have ramped up patrols in the area.
“This is one of the first ones where I can recall where we have the child saying that the individual actually ran after the child. So we're extremely concerned about this,” said Capt. Ron Ruple of the Mandeville Police Department.
Police have already alerted state and federal officials, and they're looking over video footage.
Neighbors say they never thought it could happen in their subdivision.
“I'm in shock, in shock, because this neighborhood is so safe. We never, ever have heard of anything like this,” said Leah Vita, who has lived in the area for 30 years.
A St. Tammany School bus dropped Denae off in front of her home Wednesday. And while she is safe, she fears another child may not be so lucky.
“I hope that anyone who sees this man to report to the police, because you don't know what he could do next,” she said.
The suspect is described as a heavy-set Hispanic male with a mustache and glasses. He was wearing a light blue polo shirt at the time.
He is in his late 20s to early 30s and speaks with a Spanish accent
Police believe he was driving an older green or gray Cadillac Deville or Chevrolet Caprice that had rust or peeling paint and dents in the hood and driver's side door.
If you have any information, call Mandeville police at 985-626-9711.