Update: Police search in West Seattle after child reports seeing possible abduction

October 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm | In Gatewood, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | 79 Comments

(SCROLL DOWN for newest information)

12:55 PM: We need to say for starters that this is ***NOT yet verified*** BUT we don’t want to wait any longer before putting something out in case it is.

This is all according to scanner information. SPD has just tweeted something we will add in a moment.

Police got a call that a man was seen “duct taping” and putting a child in a pickup truck near Gatewood Elementary School. The truck was described as silver, no canopy. The man was described as wearing a black robe and blue jeans.

Every officer in the area is on the lookout, while the school is doing a head count to make sure no one was missing.

We have a crew on the way to the school to see if this has been verified. If we hear anything more about the description of the POSSIBLE truck, we will let you know.

12:58 PM UPDATE: All SPD has tweeted is “Officers investigating possible student abduction in West Seattle. Still working to confirm. More details to come.”

Our crew is now in the Gatewood Elementary area, but there’s no additional information available there so far.

A bit of added description information: The possible suspect is a white male, in his 30s/40s. The possible victim was described as wearing a pink top, 6 to 12 years old, long black hair.

The description being broadcast citywide says the report comes from a 6-year-old who reported seeing this happen at a “nearby house.” That house is reported to be on the Frontenac side (north side) of the school. That street is currently closed off.

Police are continuing to put out information via Twitter, all details we have published already. Still no word of anyone being CONFIRMED missing.

1:17 PM: Police have reiterated via Twitter that there is no verification of anyone missing yet but say they “do not believe a child was taken from a school.” Commenter Steph, who is a Gatewood parent, says she has spoken with the school office and they said ALL students there are accounted for.

1:38 PM: We’re monitoring all info channels, but there is nothing new.

1:59 PM: If you saw police with a silver truck on 48th SW a short time ago – it was checked out but determined NOT to be related. Meantime, Seattle Public Schools public affairs says that while Gatewood’s doors are locked as a precaution, they are not technically in lockdown or shelter-in-place status, and are still working out dismissal details, though expecting it to be at the regular time.

2:21 PM: Police are still keeping an eye out for any potential vehicles but otherwise standing down a bit. No word of an actual missing child anywhere, but nor has the sighting been explained. If anything new emerges, we’ll add it here.

2:26 PM: There’s been conflicting info about Gatewood’s status between what parents were told and what the district told us. We just got a call from the school directly, and here’s the CURRENT information: The school is not currently sheltering-in-place. Dismissal and after-school activities will be normal.

5:52 PM – A REQUEST FROM POLICE: Southwest Precinct Sgt. Joe Bauer asked us to publish this request: If your home or business is within a square mile or so of Gatewood Elementary (which fronts on both Myrtle and Frontenac just west of California) and you have a video-camera system – or happened to be rolling video in the area for any other reason – please check it, particularly for the time period between about 12:30 pm and 1 pm today. If you see anything at all that might be of interest to police related to this investigation, please e-mail him at joseph.bauer@seattle.gov. (We are also mentioning this in comments and will post it separately.)

7:46 PM: SPD Blotter has just summarized what police have learned so far, but the bottom line remains: “At this point, officers have not found any evidence that a crime occurred.”

79 Comments

  1. If this turns out to be accurate – swift prayers for the child and for SPD in locating.

    Comment by Alkigirl — 12:59 pm October 24, 2013 #

  2. Hopefully it’s just a false alarm. Crossing my fingers here!

    Comment by anonymous123 — 12:59 pm October 24, 2013 #

  3. I hope so too.

    Comment by WSB — 1:01 pm October 24, 2013 #

  4. Wow, way too close to home… Praying its false and huggin my Babylove a bit tighter!

    Comment by Mystique2u — 1:03 pm October 24, 2013 #

  5. I just called Gatewood (as my kids go there). They said all of their students are accounted for and they are doing “shelter in place” right now. Holy Crap. Freaking out!!!!

    Comment by Steph — 1:08 pm October 24, 2013 #

  6. We were just up in this area – me and my 3 year old daughter. I wish I could help in some way. I just hope this gets resolved quickly.

    Comment by Gordon — 1:11 pm October 24, 2013 #

  7. Possible Halloween type prank? Hopefully!

    Comment by Guy — 1:12 pm October 24, 2013 #

  8. Thanks, Steph, we can’t get close to the school and had not heard an update regarding everyone being accounted for. But 12-year-old (IF accurate and IF this turns out to be real) would be too old for elementary anyway.

    Comment by WSB — 1:14 pm October 24, 2013 #

  9. I was walking with my baby and husband twenty minutes ago at California and Fauntleroy. I saw police officers stop a truck in the turn lane matching the description and search it. They then let it go. So terrifying to now know what they were searching for.

    Comment by Faunteroy mom — 1:14 pm October 24, 2013 #

  10. My child goes to school there and we haven’t heard a thing. Is the school on lockdown? The report sounds odd saying the child was put in a truck but see at a house?? I’m confused.

    Comment by A — 1:14 pm October 24, 2013 #

  11. Pray hard everyone. Angels with the child and the officer and parents. Praying it’s not true. I’m in tears this is so awful.

    Comment by Pray — 1:16 pm October 24, 2013 #

  12. That 6 year old child is very brave for speaking up and saying something. Hopefully this is just a misunderstanding and nothing bad will come of it.

    Comment by Noelle — 1:17 pm October 24, 2013 #

  13. Just called the school office and was told all kids there have been accounted for.

    Comment by Amy — 1:17 pm October 24, 2013 #

  14. Just saw a police car speed up our street at a high rate of speed in Arbor Heights. Not sure if this is related but thought I would post.

    Comment by Nancy — 1:23 pm October 24, 2013 #

  15. Thanks, Amy, after Steph wrote that, we added to the story. Still no new info – this has been broadcast to police everywhere in the city, though, and even before that, police were assigned to watch bridge ramps and other routes out of the area.

    Comment by WSB — 1:25 pm October 24, 2013 #

  16. I’m in the building. All kids accounted for. Calm inside. Kiro just turned up outside.

    Comment by Dee — 1:29 pm October 24, 2013 #

  17. I don’t know about this…

    Comment by A — 1:29 pm October 24, 2013 #

  18. Thank god all kids are accounted for. So scary. What with all the news lately of flashers and creeps around schools.. Good job to the 6 year old who spoke up. Did exactly what anyone should have done in that situation.

    Comment by Westside J. — 1:38 pm October 24, 2013 #

  19. I just called the school (as my child attends it) they ARE on lockdown. SO you have to show up at 2:50 like normal, and WAIT until they will reliece your child to you. I am “assuming” you will need your ID. So scary. I hope it is not true.

    Comment by Melinda — 1:45 pm October 24, 2013 #

  20. Good god. Praying this turns out ok

    Comment by DSC — 1:50 pm October 24, 2013 #

  21. SPS public affairs says the school is not on lockdown. The doors are locked, but technically, spokesperson Lesley Rogers says, they are not on lockdown or shelter in place. They’re still working on how dismissal will be handled.

    Comment by WSB — 1:57 pm October 24, 2013 #

  22. Melinda – they ARE NOT in lockdown. I just spoke with someone in the office. There is a difference between lockdown and SIP by the way. She also said they are about to end the SIP. After school clubs are still on.

    Comment by A — 1:59 pm October 24, 2013 #

  23. So far the only witness is a 6-year-old, correct? Having a 6-year-old of my own, I wonder about the high potential for misunderstanding what he/she observed. I surely hope that’s the case here.

    Comment by LuckyNeighbor — 2:00 pm October 24, 2013 #

  24. That’s contrary to what the school told me about ten minutes ago, which was they are in “shelter in place”. At that time they also did not have dismissal planned.

    Comment by hawkbit — 2:00 pm October 24, 2013 #

  25. What’s West Seattle becoming?

    Comment by alki forever — 2:03 pm October 24, 2013 #

  26. Shelter in place. I was allowed to take my child home but I was already in the building.

    Comment by Dee — 2:07 pm October 24, 2013 #

  27. Sounds strange how did this 6year old see this? Would question this child further .Doesn’t seem likely this child needs to be question further before more resources are used.

    Comment by rose — 2:10 pm October 24, 2013 #

  28. So…why no robo-call or email to explain the situation to parents/guardians?

    Comment by steve — 2:13 pm October 24, 2013 #

  29. Agree with lucky neighbor – I too question the validity of the 6yo only eyewitness.

    Comment by A — 2:14 pm October 24, 2013 #

  30. Yikes! I never thought I’d say this, but this is a case where I’m praying that someone is ‘telling porkies’; the alternative is too monstrous to contemplate. Regardless, it must be acted upon, and SPD is to be commended for it’s rapid response!

    Comment by McGruff — 2:15 pm October 24, 2013 #

  31. WSB – you are wrong. I spoke with someone at the school and they are/were in SIP. My child’s teacher also said so via email.

    Comment by A — 2:17 pm October 24, 2013 #

  32. On google street view there is a white and gray pickup truck parked in front of 4318 SW Frontenac. I used to live at that address and I think that is a familiar vehicle there.

    The whole duct-tape-a-young-kid thing sounds really bad though. And a 12 year old getting abducted sounds really awful, and no, it wouldn’t be a Gatewood student but some other school’s student. Hope they are checking out other schools nearby for head counts.

    I hope that it was a child’s overactive or Halloween-based imagination. The local flashing incidents recently don’t make me feel so good about this though.

    Glad to see that the police and SPS are taking this situation completely seriously. Frankly, they always seem to do so.

    Comment by Joel — 2:21 pm October 24, 2013 #

  33. A Gatewood administrator just called, confirming they are not currently in shelter in place/lockdown, and dismissal will be normal, as will after-school activities. – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 2:25 pm October 24, 2013 #

  34. hmmm on Google earth there is also a black sedan parked in front of that house similar to the car described in the flashing incidents.

    Don’t want to over-think this, but it does seem like an unfortunate coincidence for the person who lives there.

    Comment by mm — 2:32 pm October 24, 2013 #

  35. Gesh.. scary. My thought is what if whomever was abducted does not attend school or that particiar school that is on lockdown. They could still be out there..

    Comment by Megan — 2:38 pm October 24, 2013 #

  36. Just got a robo-call confirming that they were in SIP and it was lifted, after-school activities continuing as normal. Leaving out another detail that was just for the parents.

    Comment by amnesiak — 2:41 pm October 24, 2013 #

  37. Could be the kid is too young for school or home schooled or sick for that day. I hope it’s just not true.

    Comment by Bmc — 2:48 pm October 24, 2013 #

  38. Received a robo call from the interim principal of Madison Middle School alerting of the alleged abduction. They are asking that parents account for their children before & after school & ensure kids are monitored. I also received a note regarding the flasher a few days ago. We are new to this area & I am overwhelmed with fear. My kids aren’t going anywhere without me. Are we to alert SPD of silver trucks?

    Comment by EB — 2:48 pm October 24, 2013 #

  39. I really hope that everything turns out to be ok.

    as far as the reliability of a witness that age, maybe kids will surprise you… last night during KIR’s news, they showed part of an ‘on the street’ interview with the Canadian sex offender escapee. before I had a chance to change the channel, my 5 year old piped up and said ‘hey that’s the same guy that dad was looking at on the computer.’
    he had seen the photo here on WSB from across the room earlier that day and dad wasn’t even pointing out the guy or the photo to the kid. kids are observant.

    Comment by sam-c — 3:05 pm October 24, 2013 #

  40. Maybe it’s the flasher pulling a prank on cops and us or to divert attention from him this afternoon.

    Comment by Bmc — 3:13 pm October 24, 2013 #

  41. google earth, google street views are not taken today…so those are old pictures. Some on the google earth/view etc. site are 2 years (or more) old…

    Comment by JanS — 3:13 pm October 24, 2013 #

  42. What exactly is “shelter-in-place”? I remember lock downs, but I’ve never heard of that before.

    Comment by Ummm — 3:21 pm October 24, 2013 #

  43. This is a good opportunity for all schools in the area to make sure there are plenty of adults on the playgrounds during recess breaks, particularly with the fog limiting visibility. I am sure there are plenty of parents who would volunteer some time at lunch at recess breaks to avert flashing and luring risks and opportunities. More adults supervising and walking the playground perimeters next to streets would also reduce opportunities for perpetrators.

    Hopefully this was a false alarm, but also a wake-up call that we all need to be more watchful.

    Comment by MD — 3:21 pm October 24, 2013 #

  44. before the lynch mob heads out -

    Google street view images are not live or even current. The one for my house is several years old.

    Comment by erico — 3:23 pm October 24, 2013 #

  45. I have a child at Gatewood and this is scary! With all the other things happening in the neighborhood lately, this is really the icing on the cake… I agree with Alki Forever, what is becoming of West Seattle? Hope this was just a false alarm, but am feeling super worried now.

    Comment by WSmama — 3:24 pm October 24, 2013 #

  46. Here is an explanation of “shelter in place” vs. “lockdown”:
    .
    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=270640

    Comment by WSB — 3:37 pm October 24, 2013 #

  47. I have to agree with Sam-C. Eyewitnesses can be notoriously unreliable, but this witness’s age shouldn’t be assumed to be a liability. At that age, many kids have sharp eyes and ought to be taken as seriously as any other passerby.

    Comment by DF — 3:53 pm October 24, 2013 #

  48. You have got to be kidding me >:(

    Comment by BrassyMomma — 3:57 pm October 24, 2013 #

  49. The person who reported seeing it was a 6-year-old student, as noted in the story. How was she supposed to “pursue” it?

    Comment by WSB — 4:00 pm October 24, 2013 #

  50. Craig – please read the story before commenting. Oh my!

    Comment by Kristin — 4:02 pm October 24, 2013 #

  51. @MD. Thank you for being the voice of reason. I fully agree.

    Comment by A concerned father — 4:11 pm October 24, 2013 #

  52. I’m wondering if maybe this kid saw SOMETHING and with all the panic going on regarding the flasher/etc, they let their imagination run away with them? I really hope that’s the case. I’m glad they’re checking it out regardless.

    Kids used to report seeing weird things in the woods at Schmitz all the time after there was a report of someone lurking around the fence… Either way I feel absolutely awful for all the kids in West Seattle these days… I’m sure it’s a scary time to be on the playground. :(

    Comment by Cait — 4:12 pm October 24, 2013 #

  53. my bad.

    Comment by craig — 4:15 pm October 24, 2013 #

  54. There is a good chance the kid was mistaken, especially with the poor visibility of that “The Mist” clinging to WS.

    I’ll send good vibrations from SoCal.

    Comment by G — 4:19 pm October 24, 2013 #

  55. How “active” is this still? Are we supposed to call in and report any silver pickup truck we see? Just saw one at the laundromat on 35th near the car wash.

    Comment by ACG — 4:21 pm October 24, 2013 #

  56. ACG – I can only say that as we continue to monitor radio communications, police are continuing to respond to reports from people who think they MIGHT have some information. My completely unofficial opinion would be call it in and let the dispatcher ask you the questions. Might be something they’ve already checked out, might not. You just never know.

    Comment by WSB — 4:26 pm October 24, 2013 #

  57. Called in and reported it.

    Comment by ACG — 4:35 pm October 24, 2013 #

  58. And they have just dispatched officers to check it out.

    Comment by WSB — 4:36 pm October 24, 2013 #

  59. Thanks to everyone who is keeping an eye out and alerting the police to potential tips. I have a child in SPS in West Seattle, not at Gatewood, and it just sickens and horrifies me to think of what may have happened. I hope this turns out to be nothing.

    Comment by DLR — 4:56 pm October 24, 2013 #

  60. I’m sick and tired of reading and seeing news about perverts in the neighborhood and them getting away without even being ID’d. Lucky for them our paths have never crossed.

    Comment by PeacefulWarrior — 5:04 pm October 24, 2013 #

  61. There has been a lot of stuff going on lately. I don’t really think WS is getting worse. If we lived in these are still things that happen. I remember flashers and kidnappings and the like when I was a kid many years ago. The difference it we receive the alerts on TV, Phones, tables, laptops, netbooks, PC, etc . . . instead of watching the 5′oclock news.
    Everyone just needs to be more aware of their surroundings and kids need to keep getting educated.
    I still feel safe in WS and won’t let flashers, kidnappers, gangsters, etc . . bother me.
    My 2 cents.

    Comment by Wes C. Addle — 5:26 pm October 24, 2013 #

  62. Maybe it was a mannequin or Halloween decoration?

    Comment by Greta — 5:41 pm October 24, 2013 #

  63. Has it even been confirmed that an incident happened? People are becoming a bit paranoid. I want every child to be safe and feel secure, but lately I feel nervous just walking by a playground on the way to a store. I am an adult male. If I smile at or say something to a child will someone view me with suspicion? It’s a sad situation.

    Comment by onion — 5:42 pm October 24, 2013 #

  64. There’s power in communication and collaboration. The more people make each other aware and work towards ways to education and inform, the stronger our community is.

    Comment by Anonymous — 5:46 pm October 24, 2013 #

  65. Well said Wes. The world is as scary as you let the media make it. Your kid is no more likely to be abducted now than when you were growing up. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the news media is there to instill fear and paranoia in us. I gave up on watching the news a long time ago and have been a lot happier ever since. I appreciate the blog for their reporting of what is going on in the west and for not trying to make everyone paranoid like the local news channels do. It’s kind of crazy how the blog reports something as a possible abduction and everyone starts freaking out and going nuts about perverts and this and that. Let’s wait until all the facts are out before jumping to crazy conclusions people. It’s a good possibility that kid thought he/she saw what he/she didn’t actually see. Stop watching the news and enjoy life people!

    Comment by a — 5:57 pm October 24, 2013 #

  66. Hey all – Interrupting this discussion for a request from police. I have just added it to the story, and will publish it separately atop the page, but for anyone just hitting “refresh” to check in on comments – they are continuing to try to verify what if anything happened:

    REQUEST FROM POLICE: Southwest Precinct Sgt. Joe Bauer asked us to publish this request: If your home or business is within a square mile or so of Gatewood Elementary (which fronts on both Myrtle and Frontenac just west of California) and you have a video-camera system – or happened to be rolling video in the area for any other reason – please check it, particularly for the time period between about 12:30 pm and 1 pm today. If you see anything at all that might be of interest to police related to this investigation, please e-mail him at joseph.bauer@seattle.gov.

    P.S. Here’s a map of the area http://goo.gl/maps/qv2A0

    Comment by WSB — 6:01 pm October 24, 2013 #

  67. We live a half block from the school. Someone from Q13 knocked on our door since we had some toys in the front yard, wanted to interview me about the ‘scary stuff going on in the neighborhood’. Meh, no thanks to being that guys helping sensationalize this stuff. I found it weird.

    Comment by Gatewooder — 6:10 pm October 24, 2013 #

  68. I agree Gatewooder,

    No issue with increased awareness and talking to our kids. But hysteria? Top Story at 11 o’clock news! Not warranted.

    Work towards putting safeguards in place, without relying on ten year old Google Earth photos to target likely innocent residents. Advocate for effective policing to root out a menace, but don’t call out every silver truck when we don’t even know if a crime has taken place!

    Crikey! Not to exaggerate but this is how the Salem witch hunts happened…

    Comment by madashell — 6:43 pm October 24, 2013 #

  69. And still no known report of a missing person???? Very odd to me especially if it was a kid. If it did in fact happen, maybe it was a small framed woman? I hope it all gets sorted out for the good.

    Comment by Bsmomma — 6:47 pm October 24, 2013 #

  70. Hey Brian,
    The school where all the kids were killed last year did have those precautions in place. If someone wants to get in they will get in. It’s that simple.

    Comment by A — 8:21 pm October 24, 2013 #

  71. WSB can you please remove Brian’s very specific information about what kind of security the school has or doesn’t have? That specific information does not need to be available for all to see.

    Comment by Please — 9:07 pm October 24, 2013 #

  72. I am very impressed with how Gatewood staff and police have handled this report so seriously even though it is unconfirmed. I hope the witness misunderstood what she saw, but I also hope that everyone who validated her perception is proud of their responce.

    Comment by Klk — 9:46 pm October 24, 2013 #

  73. I second that request about respectfully removing or editing Brian’s comment…seems prudent to not get into specifics about a school’s security procedures or lack thereof…please?

    Comment by lp3 — 10:00 pm October 24, 2013 #

  74. It could be a child from a totally different neighborhood, city or state. They usually don’t go for the kid next door when they do such a thing. That could be the reason why there are no missing children around the area reported. That is just one of a lot of other possible scenarios that would explain it.

    I think children should be taken seriously, a lot can be overlooked by not doing so and they will be safer if we do. It’s better to get a false alarm than a crime that could be stopped overlooked because a child reported it, specially in front an elementary school. My son goes there and that is just comforting to know that police act so fast.

    Comment by BJ — 1:15 am October 25, 2013 #

  75. News van out at the corner of the school at 5am.

    Comment by News — 5:32 am October 25, 2013 #

  76. They wrapped up around 7:30am, packed up about the time I walked the kid to before-school care at Gatewood.

    Comment by hawkbit — 9:24 am October 25, 2013 #

  77. Nothing new – it was a rehash of yesterday. Which sometimes (speaking as a former morning-newscast executive producer) is all you can do in the early morning. I believe at least one crew was pulled from here to get over to the I-5 mess, which was breaking around 7 am. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:35 am October 25, 2013 #

  78. Anything new as of now on this? I’m still on pins and needles over this… Eeeeeekkkk!!

    Comment by WSmama — 1:48 pm October 25, 2013 #

  79. This was a six year old who got caught up in her imagination and likely her parents’ worry over the recent flasher incidents. Everyone needs to calm down. Gatewood staff is being extremely cautious and vigilant. Be careful when talking to your children about this stuff. Their rumor -mills can be really scary and Unfortunately our local radio and tv media live for this stuff !!!

    Comment by Wsreads — 7:46 pm October 25, 2013 #

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