KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Northland mother said a stranger jumped out of a bush on her street and approached her little boy as he got off of the school bus.
It happened near Highland and N. Flora avenues in Kansas City, Mo., late last week.
“I’d tell you, my heart was beating out of my chest,” said mother Katie Rader.
“[I was] just sick to my stomach and you start thinking about, ‘Well, what if I wouldn’t have been there? What if I would’ve been a minute later? Would he have tried to take my son?’”
A slew of “what-ifs” flooded Rader’s mind when she watched from afar as her then 7-year-old son hopped off his school bus, and something alarming happened.
“Some random man jumps out of the bushes and asks if he needs help carrying his stuff,” she said.
A large bush at the end of her street served as the stranger's hiding spot. Rader immediately ran there and made it clear her young son didn't need anyone's help.
“As soon as I got there, he said, ‘Mom’s here to save the day!’” she said of the stranger’s reaction to her quick response. “And then the gentleman just took off!”
Rader took her son to safety and called police. They patrolled the area but never found the man.
“I wondered where he came from,” she said. “What his intention was, why is he talking to my son?”
Out of precaution, she notified her son's nearby school, Clardy Elementary. Principal Raquel Coy then sent out this alert to other parents:
I am writing to make you aware of an incident that was recently reported to us. Yesterday, a Hispanic male, approximately 18-20 years old, wearing a tan shirt and brown pants, approached a Clardy student near the bus stop at Highland and N. Flora. The student was asked if help was needed. The student’s mother approached at about the same time and the subject left the scene.
While we don’t know who this subject is, nor do we know this person’s intent, it is a good opportunity to share these important safety measures with your child if they wait at bus stops, bike or walk to school:
• Never walk alone.
• Don’t talk to strangers.
• Stay away from strange vehicles.
• Run if you sense danger. Yell for help.
• Tell an adult or someone you trust if you are approached.
• Call 9-1-1 immediately.
• Tell the police as many details as possible about the person and/or vehicle, including the license plate number.
• Notify the school.
Working together we can all ensure the safety of our community and keep all of our children safe. Thank you for your continued vigilance.
Raquel D. Coy
It was a scary situation that sparked another warning from Rader:
“Always be on the lookout,” she said, “and you never know what can happen in the blink of an eye, so definitely don’t let your guard down.”
Rader described the suspect as a Hispanic man, about 18-20 years old, 5’6” to 5’8”, weighing about 130 pounds. She said he was wearing a light tan collared shirt and brown pants that day. She did not see what kind of vehicle he was driving since he ran off.
If you know anything about this man or the case, call Crime Stoppers at (816) 474-TIPS.