No child was harmed or actually taken in the incident, according to North Ridgeville Police Lt. Vince Abt, who said a woman told officers a middle-aged white man tried to walk away with her 4-year-old grandson from the park’s popular Splash Pad water play area about 2:28 p.m.
Moments later, the man ran on foot toward Bainbridge Road.
“If he ran northbound through the park toward Bainbridge, he was running right toward the (police) department,” Abt said.
The Police Department is located across Bainbridge Road from the park in the municipal complex with city hall and other offices.
“We had five officers working,” Abt said. “It was right before shift change and some people were coming in. We also had two detectives. There were a good number of police there within seconds.”
Police have no idea whether the man was a local resident or someone who had come to the park from elsewhere, Abt said.
There were between 50 to 100 people in the park at the time of the incident, police said.
“The park is packed most days during the summer with day camp activities and other things,” Parks Director Kevin Fougerousse said. “It’s a public park and we can have hundreds of people in and out on a given day.”
Fougerousse said the Parks Department’s trained counselors and instructors are normally on the lookout for problems situations and know to contact police immediately if it appears anything of a suspicious nature is occurring.
Parks’ personnel explained to parents who were present that no children were in any real danger, Fougerousse said.
Police are now working to talk with a few other people who reportedly came forward with information that they had also seen the alleged abduction, Abt said.
“We haven’t talked to them in detail yet. There’ll definitely be more to come from this,” he said.