‘A prank that went too far’

Police are charging two teenagers with felony attempted
kidnapping for their ill-planned attempt to scare a 12-year-old
Brownell Academy student Tuesday afternoon.
GILROY – Police are charging two teenagers with felony attempted kidnapping for their ill-planned attempt to scare a 12-year-old Brownell Academy student Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday Gilroy police received a call from the young victim who told officers he was grabbed in a “bear hug” by a male suspect who tried to carry him to a nearby vehicle with two other males. The victim fought his way loose from the suspect’s grip and the suspect jumped back into the vehicle parked in the 8000 block of Carmel Street, which drove away immediately, according to police.

Thanks to victim and witness descriptions, police quickly located the suspects’ 1989 Honda Accord, and although the suspects were not in the vehicle, identifications were made.

The 17-year-old male who grabbed the victim turned himself into police Tuesday night. Another juvenile male was excepted to do the same Wednesday and the third teenager in the car will not be charged, police said.

The 12-year-old victim was not physically injured in the incident.

“(The suspects) said they were doing it as a prank and never intended to take the victim into the car,” Gilroy Police Department Corp. Ronnie Georges said. “But that means nothing to us – their actions were to kidnap the victim. (The victim) thought he was a goner; he was real shaken up.”

Police said the victim did not know any of the suspects and was “horrified” when the 5-foot, 11-inch, 170 pound suspect tried to abduct him while he walked home from school.

The 17-year-old suspect was booked at Juvenile Hall in San Jose Tuesday night, but his name cannot be released because he is a juvenile. The teenager lives in Gilroy but does not attend Gilroy High School, Georges said.

“There’s no indication that other kids will be at risk,” Georges said. “Apparently, this was just a prank that went too far.”

Regardless of the nature of the incident, Brownell Academy teachers, staff and the rest of the district will use the incident as a way to remind students and parents of the dangers of kidnappers, said Roger Cornia, the Gilroy Unified School District safety officer.

“We will reinforce what we already tell the kids,” Cornia said. “Our major concern is child predators. We always have discussions with kids, parents and teachers at the beginning of each school year and each semester about how to avoid these people and find help.”

Cornia said Brownell Academy teachers will be asked to review the kidnapping prevention lessons with their classes next week and that information on Tuesday’s incident will be in the next school newsletter.

Brownell Academy had several campus supervisors around the school at the time of the incident, but none witnessed the attempted kidnapping, Cornia said.

Aside from the victim, the only witnesses were a neighbor and a person who was walking across the street, according to police.

GPD officers schedule their neighborhood patrols so they are in the area of local schools when they let out for the day. The department has no plans to increase patrols, Georges said.

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