Officials keeping an eye out for suspicous male

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mower County authorities are keeping an eye out for a suspicious man who reportedly followed a child in LeRoy in May and is possibly responsible for a more recent incident in North Branch, Minn.

North Branch police reported an abduction of a 9-year-old boy Wednesday by a white male, between the ages of 30 and 40, with a thin build, blonde hair and long goatee.

The man put the child in a four-door, white sedan and drove for about two miles before the boy was able to escape, according to a press release.

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Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said Friday that the North Branch incident is similar to one that occurred May 28 at Lake Louise Park.

In that incident, a man described by the sheriff as 6-feet tall, between the ages of 30 and 40 and with a clean shaven face, got out of a rusty, white car and approached a 10-year-old boy who was fishing at a dam. The man walked up very close to the boy and put a cell-phone to his ear, though he did not talk.

The boy moved to another spot, and the man followed. The boy then left his fishing equipment and fled.

A report was filed by the Mower County sheriff’s office on July 5, though the man’s actions in LeRoy would not constitute a crime, Amazi said.

North Branch police chief Stephen Forner said the department has a possible suspect in the case. Forner said the suspect matches the description of man suspected of another similar incident in Mankato late last year.

Forner said it’s important for parents and children to understand what to do in these types of situations.

“(Children should) stay way from strangers,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Amazi said the boy in LeRoy did exactly what any child should do if approached by someone that makes them feel uncomfortable, and said parents should “definitely have the talk with your kids” about how to stay safe in public.