PEABODY — Three days after police say a man tried to abduct a 9-year-old boy near the William A. Welch Sr. Elementary School, some families are on edge.
“It’s scary,” said Steven Georgion, as he waited for his 10-year-old grandson Thursday afternoon at the K-5 school. “I always tell him not to say a word to anyone they don’t know.”
A police cruiser was parked near the entrance to the school Thursday as authorities continue to search for a man who the boy said grabbed him from behind as he walked with his scooter on Swampscott Avenue at 8:30 Tuesday night. He told police the man, in his 40s, covered his mouth and dragged him to the school’s parking lot. The child freed himself and ran home. He was not injured.
The suspect is described as 5-feet, 9-inches tall, dark-skinned, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and red hat.
Keith Santos, a stay-at-home father of four children aged 5 to 8, who was helping the kids into the family’s SUV at Welch, said he’s not overly concerned about the incident.
“Obviously, my eyes will be a little bit more open,” he said. “But everyone knows there are crazy people out there and you always have to be vigilant.”
Tiffany Gordon, the boy’s mother, could not be reached for comment.
But on her Facebook page, she wrote the incident happened 20 feet away from her as family and a few friends took a walk in the neighborhood.
“This man covered my son’s mouth and aggressively and violently had my son’s head in a locked downward position to prevent my son from having full visual contact of this man,” she wrote. “He had my son’s scooter in his other hand. A split second (later) he released my son’s neck to get a better grip of the scooter. My son knew that if the man got him any further into the woods, he was not going to be able to be heard or seen or helped. I’m truly scared that this man is not finished. He did this out in the open with a child surrounded by other people. He was precise, fast, and clearly had the confidence to do this with so many people around.”
Peabody Police Chief Thomas Griffin said her social media post did not match some of the boy’s statement to police.
For example, he said, mom gave the time of the incident as 6:30 p.m., and wrote he was dragged into the woods.
Sgt. Christos Zamakis said there are no suspects at this time.
“I know they are actively investigating, but there’s nothing new that we’ve been made aware of here,” he said.
Nancy Shea, who was picking up her grandson while her daughter vacations in Las Vegas, said she’s always worried.
“Sadly, you have to be on high alert,” she said.
Last fall, police and the Center Elementary School issued a warning about an attempted abduction.
In a letter that went home to parents, officials said they were investigating an incident near the school on Irving Street.
A grandmother called police to say her grandson, a student at the school, had been approached by a “light brown” man in his late 20s or early 30s driving a blue Honda sedan after dismissal and ordered him to “get into the vehicle,” according to a Peabody Public Schools incident report.
Upon hearing the command, the boy ran back to the school, the grandmother told police.
Also in the car, the boy told his grandmother, was a white, female passenger in her late 20s or early 30s, with short, dark hair.
That case remains unsolved.