Police investigate attempted kidnapping in Goodyear

Posted: Updated:
Sketch of suspect By Jennifer Thomas Sketch of suspect By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Goodyear police have released a sketch of the suspect in an attempted kidnapping near an elementary school Friday morning.

According to Goodyear police spokeswoman Lisa Kutis, a 12-year-old girl was walking to Westar Elementary School at approximately 7:30 a.m. when she was approached by an unknown man in a van. The man asked the girl if she needed a ride and she told him no. He then got out of the vehicle, grabbed the girl's arm and attempted to pull her from the sidewalk.

The victim broke free and ran to the school where she reported the incident to officials. The school went into lockdown and police were called.

A teacher who was on duty at a crosswalk saw the suspect and the van was able to get a partial license plate number. The teacher and student worked with police detectives to develop a sketch of the suspect.

The white male was described as being tan skinned, 50 to 55 years old, 6 feet tall with a pot belly, mustache and goatee. He had white/blondish hair that was balding on each side of the top portion of his head. He was wearing smaller rimmed glasses, a light blue T-shirt, khaki pants and possibly brown shoes.

The vehicle was described as a late 1980s or early '90s box-style white van with black molding on the door sides. The front bumper may have been black or had a black bra cover on it.

"Right now the information that we've gotten is great," Goodyear police Lt. Scott Benson said. "It is a little more than we usually get so it will give our detectives something to work with and hopefully we'll get a positive resolution."

Liberty Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Andy Rogers said school officials notified parents by auto dialer and also explained to the students what had happened. He said a letter will be sent home with students today.

"We don't want to alarm the students but we also want to inform them," Rogers said.

He said about 50 parents went to the school to pick up their children. Many were shocked to hear of the incident.

"I know it can happen anywhere, anytime, but we are a small community here," Deljean Buenaventura said.

A dance and a field trip planned for today have been canceled.

Goodyear police notified surrounding agencies and officers will be patrolling the area all day.

The school is located at 17777 W. Westar Drive, which is in the area of Elliot Road and Estrella Parkway.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call police at 623-932-1220.