Berkeley schools, and the local school community, are on alert after reports of two separate attempted abductions Friday morning as students made their way to classes at Willard Middle School on 2425 Stuart St.
This morning, just before school, two BUSD students were approached by a male individual in a dark green minivan near the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Oregon Street, very close to the school, according to Pasquale Scuderi, BUSD Deputy Superintendent. Scuderi sent an email to the school community at around 12:20 p.m. today.
The man tried to convince the two students to get into his van. The students refused, and continued walking, according to Berkeley police. The man then pulled up to them and once again told them to get into the van. The students declined and then made their way to the Willard Middle School campus, and notified staff who in turn called the Berkeley Police, according to Scuderi.
Scuderi went on to say that reports indicate that, soon after that incident, a similar attempt by the same individual occurred with a third student in the parking lot of a store at Telegraph and Derby. According to police, “the suspect waved towards another student standing on the sidewalk and motioned for her to approach the van. The suspect suddenly drove off when the student’s father walked up.”
The vehicle involved is described as a “dark green minivan,” an older model, possibly a Nissan Quest with rear tinted windows, according to police. The suspect is described as a “Hispanic male, 30-40 years old, dark hair. mustache, heavy set, wearing a (brown and tan) baseball hat” according to police. He has some facial hair, according to school officials.
“All students are currently safe, and all campuses throughout the district have been alerted,” Scuderi wrote. “This is an unsettling reminder of the need to regularly discuss safety and interactions with strangers with our students.”
The Berkeley Police Department is investigating and Scuderi said BUSD will notify principals and parents of any additional relevant information as it develops.
Berkeley police are asking people with information regarding these incidents to call 510-981-5900. If a person wishes to remain anonymous, he or she can call Bay Area Crime Stoppers as 1-800-222-8477.
This story was updated after Berkeleyside received more information from the police.