ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County deputies are searching for a person accused of trying to kidnap a child Monday morning.
The sheriff’s office said the child was approached by the person near Semoran Boulevard and Dahlia Drive in the Azalea Park neighborhood around 8 a.m.
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Video provided by the sheriff’s office shows the person grabbing the child, but deputies said the child was able to get away.
Deputies said the person took off in what appears to be a white Toyota RAV4.
Carla Aguirre owns the restaurant where the video was taken from the drive-thru lane.
“When they called me, I think it was the deputy (who) called me that they need the cameras. So I was still home, so I said, ‘I’m heading there right now,’ because they tried to kidnap a child. That’s what they said to me,” Aguirre said. “I said it was a blessing because two weeks ago, a set of cameras went down that we were going to replace, but they are still working, two of the sets.”
Aguirre said a second camera captured the suspect’s white Toyota RAV4. Since several of her employees have children, Aguirre said her staff began calling each other to check their children were safe following the kidnapping attempt.
“There’s a lot of children that walk by themselves. Small kids. I’m talking maybe 5, 6, 7, 10 years old. We need to be more careful as parents and as teachers,” Aguirre said.
Several schools are within walking distance from where the kidnapping attempt took place, including Azalea Park Elementary.
Samantha Gaugler, a parent at Azalea Park Elementary School, told News 6 there’s not a lot of main road traffic in the area, so it’s easier for children walking to school to run into issues.
“I walk (my daughter) to school every day. I know a lot of parents can’t and I see a lot of kids by themselves, but it’s dangerous to do that,” Gaugler said. “I told (my daughter) if there’s anyone that’s an adult that’s making you uncomfortable, I’d rather you hurt the adult and let me deal with the angry adult than for you to get hurt.”
Gaugler said it’s difficult to trust anyone these days because any adult who acts friendly toward children can easily trick them, but she tries not to worry and to prepare her daughter as best she can.
“Teaching what adults they typically can trust (is one way). Like I tell (my daughter) if there’s an issue, to try and run and get to the crossing guard,” Gaugler said. “If (my daughter) feels threatened, kick, scream, get away and find safety because that’s probably her best chance.”
The sheriff’s office did not say whether or not the child was injured during the attempted kidnapping. The age of the victim was also not released.
Anyone who recognizes the person or the vehicle is asked to contact Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.