SPOKANE, Wash. — Authorities were searching Tuesday for a man caught on surveillance video running down a sidewalk with a toddler in his arms, with the boy’s two young siblings screaming and chasing behind him, in what authorities in the tiny town of Sprague, Washington, say was a failed kidnapping.
The dramatic scene ended after a pair of local teenagers also chased after the man and he set the boy down and ran off on Sunday, authorities said.
The 22-month-old child was unhurt, said Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers.
Authorities said they don’t believe the man is a resident of Sprague, a wheat farming town of about 500 people located 40 miles west of Spokane.
“We don’t believe him to be a local at this point,” Magers said. “We’d recognize him if he was local.” Magers said authorities have no leads in the case.
Michael Wright, the boy’s father, said he was horrified by the incident.
“I can’t explain the feeling, the anxiety and everything that goes into finding out your children is missing or something has happened to them,” Wright told KXLY-TV of Spokane.
Wright left his three children with a baby sitter Sunday while he went to work.
The children, Brenden, 10; Delicia, 8; and the boy were playing unsupervised in a city park near the sitter’s house, he told KXLY.
Sheriff’s deputies said a man talked with the children for a few minutes, then scooped the toddler out of his stroller and ran down the street. Surveillance video from a grocery store showed the kidnapper running, child in arms, with Delicia chasing and Brenden not far behind.
Delicia’s screams alerted Dorothy Giddings, who was working at her antique store downtown.
“I said there is something wrong,” Giddings recalled Tuesday.
“Then this man busts out and runs across the street and he’s got a baby and a little girl right behind him screaming,” Giddings said. “The girl said, ‘That man got my baby brother! That man got my baby brother!'”
Giddings said she realized what was happening and sent her teenage grandson and his friend to chase the man.
As the older boys approached, the kidnapper put the child down in a vacant lot and fled, the sheriff’s office said. No vehicle was seen with the suspect, who is described as about 30 years old, 6-foot to 6-foot-2, with a thin build, brown hair and a mustache.
“We are leaning on somebody coming through town,” which sits along Interstate 90, a major east-west artery, Magers said.