RENTON, Wash. — Police are warning parents after two different instances of suspected luring in the Renton Highlands area.
In a Facebook post Tuesday night, the Renton Police Department detailed two different incidents that happened a week apart. Both occurred along Northeast 4th Street, and suspect descriptions were similar, according to police, but it is not confirmed that the two instances are connected.
The first was on May 15 between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. A female student from McKnight Middle School was hanging out with a friend after being dropped off by the school bus around Edmonds Avenue North and Northeast 4th Street. When the friend left, a white Ford sedan with tinted windows approached the student and the driver, described as a man with short black hair wearing a Hawaiian shirt, asked the student if she wanted a ride and told her to get in the car.
The girl attempted to walk away but eventually realized the car was following her. It approached her again and the man again insisted she get into the car, reportedly saying, "If you get in I can give you a ride wherever you want." The man eventually drove off after the girl found a friend's house and began knocking on the door.
"I have two more kids, two more daughters and the bus stop is right here. Yeah, I'm scared because there's a lot of kids that come here," said Mirna Rojas. Parents like Rojas said they are keeping an extra close eye on their children at that bus stop.
"The child had been dropped off by a bus, hanging out with her friends for a little bit. When her friends left a vehicle approached her immediately and asked her if she wanted a ride somewhere," said Sandra Havlik with the Renton Police Department.
The McKnight middle schooler described the vehicle as a white sedan that continued to follow her after she repeatedly told him no. She went to a friend's house and called the police.
The second incident occurred early Tuesday morning near Northeast 4th Street and Monroe Avenue Northeast. Renton PD said it was notified by a parent that a suspicious subject in a light gray/silver sedan with a broken rear-passenger right window, had approached her daughter on the way to the bus stop.
Tonya Knox's 16-year-old daughter takes the school bus at Monroe Avenue NE every morning. It's her daily routine. “She will never walk to school. She will never walk to that school bus again," said Tonya. Tuesday morning, Tonya got a call from her daughter, "She sounded so rattled, it scared me."
She said a man in a light gray or silver sedan came up behind the teenager and asked if she needed a ride. "She said no and kept walking. He got beside her again and asked if she could tell him how to get to the freeway, she said no. He got aggressive and then left," said Tonya.
Tonya says that's when she arrived and began walking her daughter to the bus stop, “He came back, only this time, I'm with my daughter. I pulled out my phone and started dialing 9-1-1.”
It's a moment Tonya said keeps replaying in her mind, "Have you been watching my daughter? Is your intent to grab her?”
The person in the second incident was said to have been wearing a mask and possibly was in his late 20s.
"We can't applaud the girls enough. This is exactly what you want to happen, walking away from him, saying no, walking somewhere safe and making that phone call," said Havlik.
Between the proximity, similar circumstances and suspect description, Renton Police said these attempts might be connected. "Similar enough that like I said, they could be related, we're not sure," said Havlik.
Meanwhile, Tonya hopes this man is caught, “If he's out there scoping around for kids, he needs to be stopped before someone comes up missing."