SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - There have been rumors on social media of an attempted child abduction taking place this past weekend near a Sarasota church, but the sheriff’s office says there is no threat or danger to the community.
Deputies were called to an area near Grace Baptist Church on Bee Ridge Road Saturday morning after two girls told their parents that they were walking through a trail in the woods behind the church when a man yelled to them, "Hey girls, come here."
The girls ran away and the man did not follow them, but deputies called in a K9 unit and the sheriff's helicopter to search. No one was found.
Detectives later learned that during this same time period, a 4-year-old child had gone missing from a nearby T-ball game. He was found near the wooded area of the church and the boy told two adults that he saw a man in the woods.
The adults went into the woods and say they saw the two girls in the distance and called out to them, "Hey girls, come here," but the girls ran away.
The girls said the man they saw was wearing a red shirt. One of the adults from the T-ball game who was in the woods was wearing a red shirt. Detectives say they also learned a teen-aged boy had been in the woods around that same time period and was also wearing a red shirt.
Deputies did a thorough search of the woods and the Heritage Oaks neighborhood out of an abundance of caution, but say they didn’t find anything. The sheriff’s office says though the investigation into the incident was closed as suspicious, they found no evidence of a crime and do not believe there is any threat or danger to the community.
However, there have also been social media rumors about a “blue truck” being involved in another incident involving a child.
The sheriff’s office says on Friday, they were called to Sarasota Middle School where a woman reported that at 9:30am, her son was walking to the bus stop and a pickup truck was pulled into a driveway on Middlesex Place driven by a man he did not know. The man had a juice box in his hand and the child became scared and ran to his friend’s house down the street.
But the sheriff’s office notes this is unrelated to the incident near Grace Baptist Church and in this incident, the man in the truck never spoke to the child and there is no evidence that any crime took place.
That said, the sheriff’s office stated that deputies would continue to monitor the area.