Police investigate attempted child luring case
RICHLAND, Wash. – Police arrested a man for suspicion of attempted luring after an incident in Goethals Park. Now officers are releasing a little more information on the investigation that has many parents in our area worried.
Richland police arrested a 51-year-old Michael Young Sunday on attempted luring charges, after witnesses called police about suspicious activity at Goethals Park on Saturday.
According to a witness's Facebook account, which was shared more than 33 thousand times, she said she saw Young approach two little girls at the park and the mothers overheard the man asking the child where she lived and she pointed to her house across the street.
Another witness heard him tell her she had pretty hair and another kid heard him asking the girls if they wanted a ride home.
"Some of the adults there intervened and started questioning the individual, asking them what they were doing, and trying to intercept any activities that were going on," Richland police Lt. Chris Lee said.
According to one of the women the man became defensive saying he was just a concerned parent.
After a brief argument the woman said the man took off in his truck and they reported him to the police.
Lee said a mother's instinct kicked in as she kept a watchful eye out for the children at the park.
"As with this particular case, there were individuals who thought it was suspicious enough that it warranted them to be getting involved, which I applaud that, but on the same token, call the police make sure they get there and everything is done safely," Lee recommended.
Lee said the people at the park were excellent witnesses, helping in their investigation.
"Sometimes we get reports of suspicious people and all we have is a general description of them that can match anybody,” Lee said. “With this particular one where we have a photo of the individual, and a license plate it helps us with our investigation, steering us in the right direction."
Lee said it's never too early to educate your kids about how to deal with strangers.
"They need to be aware of what's going on around them if they don't know who the individual is, not to talk to them and make sure your child has some means or mechanism to communicate back to the parent or an adult if they're put in a position that they don't feel comfortable," he said.
The best thing to do if you're concerned about a child being abandoned or alone, Lee said is to call police for help.
Action News spoke to the girls’ father, and he says he's thankful for the witnesses intervening at the park. Though he also believes in the right to a fair trial and said the man is innocent until proven guilty.
Young is still on a 72-hour hold, awaiting possible charges. He will likely appear in Benton County Superior Court on Thursday.