Law enforcement: Two weekend AL attempted abductions not connected

Published 1:37 pm Monday, August 6, 2018

Law enforcement officials say two reported attempted abductions within 24 hours this weekend in Albert Lea were not connected.

The comments were made Monday at a news conference that included the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and Albert Lea Police Department.

The first attempted abduction report involved a man unsuccessfully attempting to kidnap a 12-year-old girl, which was reported at 9:55 p.m. Saturday at the Freeborn County Fair.

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In the second attempted abduction report, a 22-year-old man said a man approached him at the basketball courts Sunday evening at the intersection of James Avenue and Frank Avenue, next to the pool, asking if he could play basketball with him. After a while, the suspect reportedly lifted his shirt to display the weapon and told the victim to come with him.

The victim reportedly fled on foot following the incident. The post states the suspect walked to his vehicle and headed south on Frank Avenue.

Sheriff Kurt Freitag and Albert Lea Lt. Darren Hanson said the incidents are likely not related because of the differing specifics of the crimes, including the discrepancies in suspect and victim descriptions.

Freitag advised parents speak with their children about safety. The Sheriff’s Office was the main law enforcement agency at the fair.

“This is a great opportunity for parents to talk about the importance of teaching their kids how to be safe, especially in high population areas like the fair,” he said. “There’s so many people here that we don’t even know who they are. We assume that everyone’s here to have a good time, and other people come here, apparently, for alternative reasons.

“I don’t want people to panic. We’re certainly not at that stage yet, but I want people to be aware. I’d like them to be vigilant.”

Freitag advised children stay in well-lit areas, look for points of exit and be with groups of family members or friends.

“If you are in a situation where someone does try to abduct you, don’t comply,” he said. Freitag advised kicking, screaming or using an improvised weapon to defend against attempted abductions.

Freitag advised contacting law enforcement immediately after attempted abductions so they can address the situation.

He said he does not anticipate Saturday’s reported attempted abduction will result in an arrest because of a lack of information on the suspect, who was described as wearing dark shoes with white laces and having an extraordinarily deep voice.

Hanson advised making eye contact with people to let them know you are aware of the surroundings to prevent abductions. He said there is not a risk to the community in the wake of the alleged incidents.

“Albert Lea is a very safe community,” he said. “This is very much out of the norm for what we see in Albert Lea. I don’t think there is a risk to the community, but it is important to take steps to protect your safety.”

The alleged victims were not injured in the incidents.

The suspect in Sunday’s reported attempted abduction is described as a white man in his late 20s to early 30s, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 180 pounds with black hair, a buzz cut and glasses.

The vehicle was described as a silver van with rust along the bottom with white tape on the rear passenger taillight.

The incident was reported at approximately 6:24 p.m.

Albert Lea Deputy Director of Police J.D. Carlson said before the news conference an increase in criminal activity is expected during the fair due to the influx of people into the community.

He advised parents to continue practicing safety precautions, such as ensuring children have phones they can call from and making sure they are supervised.

Law enforcement is following up on tips on the incidents, and police are conducting interviews. Anyone with any information is advised to contact police at 507-377-5200, extension 5.

Look to the Tribune for more information as it is released.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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