ALOHA, Ore. (KOIN) — A family gathering for Father’s Day turned into a panicked few minutes as a stranger led a 3-year-old by the hand before being scared off by adults who chased after him, the boy’s parents said.
Gerrolyn Center told KOIN 6 News she and Jeffrey Borrego along with their 3-year-old son Raimond were at her sister’s place at the Cedar Crest Apartments in Aloha for a barbecue. In all, she said, there were about 8 adults and 12 kids at the gathering in the back patio area in the 15000 block of SW Blanton Street.
“Around 7:15 to 7:20 I noticed my son was not playing with all the little ones,” Center said. “Usually he comes running back to me.”
She said she called and called him for about 5 minutes and then began to fear something was wrong.
“I started running through the apartments calling his name, thinking, OK, he’s probably on a stairwell, he’s got to be playing on a stairwell.”
But she didn’t find Raimond and “that’s when panic set in.”
She alerted all the other adults “and everybody jumped up. We put all the kids inside my sister’s house and all the adults went” to search.
Her sister spotted the man — a white man in his 30s about 5-feet-4 with strawberry blonde hair.
“She looked and this man was pulling my son. He was pulling him and at one point my sister said he had scooped up my son,” Center said. “And she was like, ‘Raimond, Raimond, no, let go of my nephew!’ That’s when the man let go of my son and took off and ran.”
Her husband chased him but wasn’t able to catch up with the suspect. “I tried to run as fast as I could but I got a bad leg, too,” Borrego said.
“At this point people from this apartment complex and the other one was running around trying to find this man,” she said. “I had ex-Marines I didn’t even know running around looking for this man.”
Still the suspect got away.
Center said her son told her the man had him by the arm, pulled him and told him there was candy in his car. “That’s what this white male that had my son was telling my son — there was candy in his car.”
She said she has so many questions.
“Why would you pick a 3-year-old child? Because they’re easier? Because all you have to do is lure them away with candy?”
But she’s grateful for the outcome. “I have just been thanking my, counting my blessings, being glad that I’m one of the moms that has their kids.”
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the attempted abduction.
Initial reports indicated 2 men were being sought — a white man and a black man. Authorities later clarified the black man ran off about the same time as the white man ran. He was later contacted by deputies and then arrested on an unrelated warrant.
The suspect remains at large and Gerrolyn Center cautions all parents to watch their kids even closer.
“I just want the predator found. Until then, just please keep an eye on your kids. No matter what the function is, make sure you have a head count of everybody.”