Police are investigating after an unidentified man allegedly approached an 8-year-old girl and asked if she wanted a ride as she was heading into P.S. 33 in the Fordham section of the Bronx Thursday morning. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Valerie Mendoza rushed to her daughter Maria's school, P.S. 33, after she heard that a man tried to abduct an 8-year-old girl there.
"That could have easily happened to my daughter," she said. "I came running over here. I said no. Luckily, I was watching the news."
Police said that at about 8 a.m. Thursday, the girl was on the school's front steps when a man approached her and asked her to go with him.
Instead, she ran into the school and told teachers.
Police have released a surveillance photo, seen at right, of the alleged suspect in the case.
The girl is a third-grade classmate of Mendoza's daughter, Maria Muniz.
"Me and my friends were very scared. We just keep asking the teachers what happened," Muniz said. "They say she's going to be fine. But we got very scared, and me and my friends were about to cry."
When parents and family members who didn't know about the incident arrived at the school Thursday afternoon to pick up children, they were shocked to learn what had happened.
"Wow. That's crazy for somebody to try to kidnap a kid," said one parent.
"In the morning, it's very unsafe, because a lot of people come and walking, and kids walk by themselves sometimes," said another. "It's very dangerous in this area."
Now, some are calling on the school to do more to protect their kids.
"Today's a dire situation because it's too many kids walking around in this place, so they have to put more security in this area," said one.
"She hugged me really tight, and I was just like, 'Come on baby. No one's going to take you. You're mine,'" Mendoza said.
The alleged suspect is thought to be in his 20s and is described as about 5 feet, 10 inches tall.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.