Police have stepped up patrols near an elementary school in Vernon and heightened security in the school after a strange man followed and a grabbed a young boy who was walking home Tuesday afternoon.
Vernon police said the student was not hurt and was able to break away and run to safety. Police were still looking for the man Wednesday.
According to police, the student was walking home from Lake Street School after classes got out when the man drove up in a four-door red vehicle. It happened near the intersection of Lake Street and Tunnel Road between 2:30 and 2:50 p.m. Tuesday.
According to police, the vehicle crossed over a lane of opposing traffic to get to the child. Police said other cars were driving by and people were walking in the area at the time.
Detectives are working with school officials to investigate.
Students headed back to school at 8 a.m. and were greeted with a heightened police presence. Detective worked throughout the night on the case and police lined the front of the school Wednesday morning. Police plan to maintain a presence at the elementary school during drop-off and pick-up times going forward.
School doors are also kept locked and there are security cameras at the school.
Police are urging parents to talk to their children about how to stay safe around strangers.
"Obviously his parents took some time to explain what needs to happen about if someone approaches you that you don’t know what you need to do that happens to you," said Anita Trahan, who lives across the street.
The incident rattled parents in Vernon.
"They were just coming inside and then the phone rang then the message came in that said there had been an attempted kidnapping," said Diane Hodson, who lives across the street. "I know my kids are pointing out every red car that they say but obviously its not just red cars its all over."
Trahan said she hopes someone saw something and reports it. It happened on a busy stretch of road, so police are hopeful that someone saw something between 2 and 3 p.m. and will come forward.
"We do have detectives working to try and locate witnesses and interview anyone that may have info relative to this investigation," Vernon Lt. William Meier said.
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who was in the area between 2 and 3 p.m. Tuesday is asked to call Vernon police at 860-872-9126. Callers can remain anonymous.