A teenage girl was the target of an attempted kidnapping Monday morning in South Merced, after police say she was approached and briefly abducted by a stranger.
The incident was reported at 9:30 a.m. Monday in South Merced, in an alleyway on West 11th Street, between H and I streets.
Police say the girl was walking to school when a two-door white hatchback with tinted rear windows pulled up alongside her. The car's driver grabbed her and pulled her into the car. He then drove a short distance, stopping the car near 11th and K streets. While the car was stopped, the girl fought with the man and made her escape, Merced police said.
The girl ran home and told her mother about what happened and her mother immediately called police.
The girl described her attacker as an unshaven Latino man with a dark complexion. Officers and detectives canvassed the neighborhood but were unable to find any witnesses.
The kidnapper was originally described by police as a white male adult, although that description later changed.
Police haven't released the make and model of the car. Merced police acknowledged several details are being kept under wraps to protect the integrity of the investigation.
Residents in the South Merced neighborhood said they're concerned after hearing about the incident.
A small park with a playground is next to the alley. Children frequently play by the alley, which is near an apartment complex and several houses.
Luis Perez, 23, who lives in the 1000 block of I Street, said he was shocked to hear about the attempted kidnapping. He said violence and crime aren't rare in the neighborhood, but this is the first kidnapping attempt in the area that he's aware of, which deeply worries him. His brother and sister, a 13-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, walk through the same alley where the teenage girl reported she was abducted. "It's a little dangerous, especially because I have siblings who go to school," he said.
Yolanda Hernandez, Perez's mother, said she will be more careful when her children walk to school. "Because they go on their own," she said.
Hernandez thought it was strange that the girl was walking by herself around 9:30 a.m. She said her children leave for school around 8:10 a.m.
Ofelia Alvarez, who lives in the 100 block of 11th Street, said the area is very dangerous. A small park on 11th Street attracts a lot of crime, she said, even during the day, presenting a danger for children wanting to play. Drugs, fights and even sex happen at the park, she said.
Alvarez, 53, who lives alone with her 88-year-old mother, said people who gather at park have broken into her home. The last time intruders broke in was in September, she said. "It scares me a lot," she said in Spanish, adding that she lives in constant fear.
Alvarez said she has to secure her gate and house doors with several locks.
Juan Hidalgo, 23, who has a child with girlfriend Alea Wibbles, 21, said he was surprised such an incident happened so close to home.
The couple said they're also going to be more aware of who is in the neighborhood. "I didn't think anything like that would happen around here," Hidalgo said.
Detectives are asking anyone with information to call Detective Raquel Rios at (209) 384-7766 or the department's automated tip line at (209) 385-4725. Calls are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.
Managing Editor Victor Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or email@example.com.