Followup: What police are now saying about possible luring attempt

1:40 PM: Following up on the incident that first came to light as an alert sent by e-mail and robo-call to Arbor Heights Elementary parents late yesterday, reported here last night along with additional information we sought from police last night, here’s what SPD Blotter has just published:

Detectives are investigating a possible luring incident Monday in West Seattle.

A 12-year-old boy was walking to school around 9 AM when a black Ford pickup truck pulled alongside him in the 1600 block of 23rd Ave SW. The driver in the truck then spoke to the boy, who kept walking. The truck then sped away.

The boy’s father was driving just ahead of the boy—to keep an eye on him as he walked to school—and witnessed the brief encounter. After seeing the truck drive off, the father picked up his son, who reported the man has asked him to help with an errand.

The boy’s father then drove through the neighborhood and caught up to the truck, and jotted down the license plate number. The father then dropped his child off at school and contacted police about the incident.

Officers went to the home where the they believed the truck’s driver was living, but residents at the house said he had not been there in more than a month.

Detectives in SPD’s Sexual Assault Unit are investigating and have identified a level-one sex offender—who is connected with the truck—as a person of interest in the case.

ADDED 3:06 PM: And now Seattle Public Schools has sent the following message to “West Seattle school families” (thanks to the Arbor Heights parent who was first to forward it to us:

Dear West Seattle schools families,

I want to share with you information on a recent event that was reported in our community. Earlier this week, Seattle Police received information regarding a male stranger driving up to a Denny International Middle School youth as he walked to school, asking him to get in the vehicle. The student refused and fled. The student’s parent was nearby and called Seattle Police with the stranger’s vehicle description and license number. That same afternoon, the parent reported to Seattle Police that the same stranger and vehicle were outside Denny after school, though there was no report to police or school administration that any students were approached by the man. Seattle Police have investigated and determined the owner of the vehicle is listed as a registered sex offender.

The Denny student did everything right, immediately getting away from the stranger and reporting the incident to his parent, and the parent was very proactive gathering vehicle information and license number.

The safety of our students is a top priority for Seattle Public Schools. You can help your children stay safe by talking to them about personal safety. As a reminder, please talk to your child(ren) about walking in pairs or groups and being aware of their surroundings at all times, as well as not talking to strangers or getting into their vehicles. Having these conversations, especially with younger children, can be difficult. We encourage you to be sensitive to your child. This link to the Seattle Police website offers some valuable information which may help you with your discussions:

Seattle Public Schools

THURSDAY UPDATE: Police added a few lines to the blotter post, saying they have found and talked to the man:

SPD detectives have contacted and interviewed the person of interest in this case. The man was very forthcoming with information about the incident. Investigators are currently checking out details he provided to rule out any criminal activity on his part.

34 Replies to "Followup: What police are now saying about possible luring attempt"

  • Kim November 19, 2014 (2:01 pm)

    Wow. What a great Dad!

  • Never too cautious November 19, 2014 (2:39 pm)

    Though it’s unfortunate that we live in an era for such measures by parents (shadowing kids to school), it’s fantastic that the dad witnessed this event and took action. The creep is lucky the dad didn’t REALLY take matters into his own hands and stomp him into pulp. Way to stay vigil, parents!!

  • alki resident November 19, 2014 (2:47 pm)

    So the sex offender moved without updating his address to his PO possibly?

  • Sillygoose November 19, 2014 (2:51 pm)

    Thank god the dad was following, this is exactly why I cringe every time I see an young child walking alone, if you will look at the sexual offender site you will see West Seattle is infected with more than one would like to see!!

  • lox November 19, 2014 (3:05 pm)

    So glad the dad was there, but what if he wasn’t? I’m horrified by the possibilities. It sounds like the child knew to get away.

  • Julia November 19, 2014 (3:15 pm)

    I’ve done that in the past, discreetly followed my child. Now I feel less like a paranoid idiot.

  • fitz November 19, 2014 (3:54 pm)

    So, with all the anecdotal evidence that sex offenders seem to not change their ways, do we just throw them on the island again and not let them off? If that kid would have gotten into that truck, everyone knows what would have happened.

  • Alan November 19, 2014 (5:45 pm)

    I’m a bit confused as to where this was. I assume that it must be down by the Boren building, but I don’t believe that a “1600 block of 23rd Ave SW” exists, as listed in the police report. It should be somewhere near 5800.

  • StringCheese November 19, 2014 (6:02 pm)

    So… I haven’t received this new message from the district (3:06 update). Did they use School Messenger or is this something I should be rummaging around my kid’s backpack to find?

  • west seattleite November 19, 2014 (9:58 pm)

    Since it’s easy enough to get labeled a sex offender for such horrible crimes as being drunk and urinating in public, some common sense needs to be bought into play.

    Real statistics and evidence show that over 70% of people labeled as sex offenders are not clinically classified as pedophiles and do not reoffend.

    The majority also have mental health issues, lack of education and socialization issues which play a major part in the event happening.

    As to having registered sex offenders in Seattle, with thousands of registered sex offenders in king county where would you prefer them?

    The solution to the majority of cases is education and socialization. That can’t happen with segregation.

  • Brontosaurus November 19, 2014 (10:49 pm)

    “1600 block of 23rd SW” must be a mistake. There doesn’t appear to be a 1600 block and if there was it would be way up north. Looking at Googlemaps, the block closest to the Boren building is the 6300 block.

    • WSB November 19, 2014 (11:36 pm)

      Bronto, I’m sorry, I just don’t know. If you started following this with us last night (Tuesday night), it has taken twists and turns … SPD told me that night, 6900 block of Delridge, not sure where 1600 block of 23rd SW came from, maybe a transposition of digits … or …

  • m November 19, 2014 (11:08 pm)

    It’s 11:04pm, I have a student at Denny, and this is the first and only piece of news I’ve received about this incident. No letter sent home with my student, no School Messenger phone call or email. When the Shelter In Place happened at Denny a few weeks ago, we didn’t hear about it from Jeff Clark, Denny’s Principal, until the regular weekly school newsletter came out the following week. If not for the WSB, I wouldn’t have known about that incident more timely either.

  • pagefive November 20, 2014 (7:17 am)

    For the record, I haven’t heard from a single West Seattle family that received a message about this incident from SPS.

  • chuckles November 20, 2014 (8:39 am)

    This is just the latest series of unfortunate events for SPS, and i am starting to feel like they are close to getting my vote of NO CONFIDENCE!

    Wasn’t it just last week where it was divulged that personal information about students was released to private individuals?

    I agree with “m” – i am far too frustrated due to the lack of communication here. I get all kinds of notifications about special events using the robo dialer and email. Did I misunderstand, or were those tools supposed to be used for mass dissemination of critical information such as this?

    WSB – Thank You! You have always been responsible and responsive on your reporting, and I feel like in this situation you have been the primary source of any information. BRAVO!

  • T Rex November 20, 2014 (9:26 am)

    west Seattleite, where did you get your information on this statement? “Real statistics and evidence show that over 70% of people labeled as sex offenders are not clinically classified as pedophiles and do not reoffend”

    I hope if you have small kids that you watch your children like a hawk. They are called predators for a reason.

    Wanting to have sex with a child is way beyond just having mental illness and some socialization skills. It is SICK.

    Wake up.

  • mama4 November 20, 2014 (9:45 am)

    @west seattleite (sic),

    This person, a registered sex offender, asked a child “to get in the vehicle” He also is not living at the address his has listed. Both are SERIOUS RED FLAGS.

    This is not some guy who peed out in public and got a harsh consequence. It is not “easy” to be labeled as a sex offender. Most are plead down, IF they even made it to court, IF it was even reported.

    “Real statistics and evidence show that over 70% of people labeled as sex offenders are not clinically classified as pedophiles and do not reoffend.” – totally depends on the study, if it was self reported, and about seventy other variables. “Real statistics” in these case are difficult to find and quoting one % as “the truth” is bad science.

    Your statements above are truly ignorant and if you want to learn about child sexual abuse Darkness to Light is a great organization.

    Also did not get ANY message from SPS.

  • Accountability November 20, 2014 (10:32 am)

    Thanks Chuckles for your post. I completely agree with you. It sounds like SPS has a hard time getting us info in a timely matter. It makes me very uncomfortable that they are not disseminating info about a sex offender attempting to lure a child until days after the incident. We should know the same day they know!!! What if that offender tried again and succeeded? Tracy, your team is awesome!! Thanks for all you do.

  • pagefive November 20, 2014 (11:23 am)

    Received an email from SPS at 10:30 this morning. “It has come to our attention that K-5 STEM didn’t receive this important message last night…” No kidding. And I didn’t receive it for my child who attends Madison, either. Who DID they send it to?

  • Heidi A November 20, 2014 (12:44 pm)

    From the Office of Public Affairs:
    “Dear K-5 STEM families and staff,
    It has come to our attention that K-5 STEM didn’t receive this important message last night. We apologize for the system error. Please know it was not intentional. Below is the message that went out yesterday regarding an event in West Seattle. – SPS”

    Nice job, SPS! You neglected to alert the families most vulnerable to a repeat attempt.
    Fortunately, we already knew thanks to the WSB and the prompt attention of our principal.

  • sam-c November 20, 2014 (1:44 pm)

    I am so confused. Why is everyone talking about the Boren building and STEM when the SPS letter refers to Denny Int’l middle school ??

  • StringCheese November 20, 2014 (2:30 pm)

    I believe the child was a student at Denny but the incident took place near the Boren building. Hence, the confusion.

  • sam-c November 20, 2014 (3:06 pm)

    thanks- I was also trying to figure out ‘1600 block of 23rd Ave SW’ location to resolve my confusion, but that didn’t work…
    regardless of where this luring attempt happened though, I am glad that the child and parent responded and acted as they did.

  • WSborn&bred November 20, 2014 (4:24 pm)

    Kudos to the dad and Arbor Heights Elementary for acting quickly and rationally.

  • NotOnHolden November 20, 2014 (7:35 pm)

    I completely disagree with Mr. Ostrom’s “giving prompt attention to this matter” and notifying anyone in a timely fashion, unless there is a secret messaging system completely separate from the normal channels. Did STEM and Arbor Heights even bother to do a neighborly “hey, did you hear about this, this is what we’re about to do.” The only way I knew about this was from another parent and WSB (seriously, huge thank you!) STEM sent out a message explaining why they didn’t notify most likely because they were bombarded with inquiries, not because they were being “prompt”

  • Kami November 20, 2014 (8:26 pm)

    Would think schools would take extra precautions but I have found that NOT to be the case… The new arbor heights/stem location has a gate on the playground that is left wide open during recesses. This gate leads right into the parking lot and is rarely monitored! Parents please take notice and let’s make it mandatory to have this gate locked during school hours. Kids are letting themselves out of this gate to get balls that have gone into the parking lot! I’m sure the school will listen if I can get others to join in my cry for help!

  • Gabby November 20, 2014 (8:46 pm)

    I’m a little dismayed that the tenor of these comments is so focused on whether or not SPS and/or an individual elementary school did due diligence by sending an alert out to all parents in a timely fashion.

    Frankly, my burning question is whether or not this sex offender has been arrested yet for his obvious crime.

    There is no indication that this attempted luring occurred on school property, and actually the facts reported thus far suggest we the public don’t even know for sure which part of West Seattle this occurred in yet (Delridge or Westwood?) So much anger is directed at K-STEM Boren when it seems this student is actually a middle school student at Denny.

    I’m quite impressed that SPS took the initiative to get this info out there at all. Kudos to the schools that went above and beyond.

    And why are we not complaining about the communications (or lack thereof) from private schools in the area on this matter? Again, it seems this did not happen on school property and as yet we don’t even know if it is NEAR a public school property.

  • ACG November 20, 2014 (9:33 pm)

    Have they caught the guy?

    What sort of penalty does luring a child have in the court of law?

    • WSB November 20, 2014 (9:50 pm)

      ACG – police updated the blotter post at some point today. They say they have talked to the guy. First three lines:

      • WSB November 21, 2014 (11:04 am)

        One more followup: While talking to SPD media relations this morning about the Delridge crash last night, I asked if they could resolve the address confusion of where the suspect allegedly approached/talked to the child. They confirm the address police gave me on Tuesday night – 6900 block of Delridge. I don’t know where they got the 23rd SW address.

  • NotOnHolden November 20, 2014 (9:45 pm)

    Gabby, your burning question is a given in a situation like this. Just because there isn’t a majority of posts about it doesn’t mean it isn’t on our minds.

    As a STEM parent, yes I’m bothered by the active choice to my communicate with the parents of the student body and I will comment on that. Since I am not privy to communications from private schools to the parents of their student body I can’t say anything about it.

    Right now it feels like SPS took their sweet time sending out notification and only did so when pressed on the matter.

    And West Seattle is not such a vast expanse as to think that Westwood has magical electric fences that keep it separate from Delridge. A better geographical comparison to write this incident off as a non issue would be Georgetown to Westwood, but that is not the case here.

    I am still baffled as to why two schools in the same building can’t even communicate and make the same choice. It’s ridiculous and there is no excuse for it.

  • Brontosaurus November 21, 2014 (12:55 am)

    WSB, any chance you can determine exactly where this took place? According to Googlemaps there is no 1600 23rd Ave SW. Was it near the Boren building? If so, it would be the 6300 block.

  • Gabby November 21, 2014 (7:13 am)

    Attempting to lure a child into a vehicle is a Class C felony and they darn well better charge him.

  • kbird November 21, 2014 (3:22 pm)

    Thanks for the update. We also got a letter from SPS stating the same thing as the last update. What information I would still like to get is:
    1. What school does the student in the incident go to?
    2. “to rule out any criminal activity on his part”…. isn’t attempting to lure a child into a car a crime? Is that not what happened?
    3. Why the lack of information and how did it get so misconstrued, especially in light of all the communication avenues and technology utilized by the SPD?

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