WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Police say a man kidnapped three children in two separate incidents near Clark Elementary School in the past 24 hours. Police say the children are safe, and an alleged suspect is in custody.
Around 3:50 Wednesday afternoon, a girl in her early teens reported she had been kidnapped by a man driving a blue vehicle in the 6600 block of E Boston, near Boston Park. She said the man tried to sexually assault her in the car, then let her go. The girl told a family member, and the police were called.
Just before 9 a.m. Thursday, two elementary students, a boy and a girl, left their home on foot on South Drury. A man in a blue vehicle kidnapped them. A short time later, he dropped off the boy but kept the girl. When he got to school, they called 911.
“A young student a male student showed up at school, rather frantic, and reported to administrators at school that his sister and he had gotten into a vehicle, and that she was not dropped off,” USD 259 Director of Safety and Environmental Services Terri Moses said.
Police say the girl was found safe a short time later.
Police officers patrolled the area and found a vehicle similar to the description near Harry and Woodlawn. It turned into a foot pursuit of a suspect. Police say they arrested him without further incident in the 6600 block of East Boston.
Neighbors say it’s scary something like this happened near them.
“I moved over here because I thought it was pretty safe, school right across the street,” Heaven White said.
Janna Palmer is spreading the word.
“Making sure that all of the neighbors know the situation, so we can all be more aware,” Palmer said.
Moses encourages parents to have conversations with their children about what to do if you feel uncomfortable or are in a similar situation.
“When we talk to children, we want to talk about behavior not just strangers, and the fact that somebody driving down the road, it would be unusual and inappropriate for somebody you don’t know to offer you a ride.”
Police say the alleged suspect is a 21-year-old man. They are still investigating, but they believe he is responsible for the kidnappings. They are also looking into whether he has any previous arrests or convictions.
During a news conference Thursday morning, police were asked about the condition of the children.
“This kind of situation is going to be extremely traumatizing,” Officer Chad Ditch, WPD spokesperson, said. “The children are physically safe.”
Ditch would not say what charges the man could face. He said that would depend on what is learned during the continuing investigation.
Watch the full news conference below:
KSN News reached out to Wichita Public Schools for a response. WPS spokesperson Susan Arensman said the children told school officials as soon as they got to school and police took over from there.