School district: Police are probing attempted abduction

Fifth-grade student bikes home to safety when stranger didn't know password

Juneau School District officials said police are investigating what appears to be an attempted abduction at Gastineau Elementary School after school hours Thursday afternoon.

JSD spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett said in a phone interview she had not been informed if an arrest has been made yet.

Bartlett said a fifth-grade boy was walking toward his bike in front of the Douglas school, getting ready to ride home sometime after 2:30 p.m. when a man tried to talk him into his car. The man told the boy his mother had told him to pick the boy up.

Bartlett said the boy was wary and asked the man for the secret password his family had established for such emergencies. The man didn’t know it, and the boy quickly rode his bike home, Bartlett said.

“The student was right on it,” Bartlett said. “He quickly thought about the family password and asked the stranger if he knew it, and he didn’t. So he refused to get in the car and went straight home.”

Bartlett said the student’s mother called authorities to report the incident.

The Juneau Police Department could not be immediately reached for comment. A release issued late Thursday confirmed the details provided by JSD.

Gastineau Elementary School Principal Kathi Yanamura sent a phone message to parents at 5:30 p.m., saying the man was driving a small dark green car. He was described as being of medium build, black tight curly hair and facial hair, Yanamura said, urging anyone with information to call police.

Bartlett said police are currently investigating and that the school will do whatever they can to assist in the investigation.

“Right now, the police are handling the investigation,” Bartlett said. “They take the lead, and if there are things we need to do, we certainly will.”

Bartlett said a similar apparent attempted abduction was thwarted last year at Floyd Dryden Middle School.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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