Juvenile in custody for West Valley City elementary school attempted kidnapping

Apr 7, 2023, 9:57 AM | Updated: Apr 8, 2023, 8:57 pm

West Valley City police car...

FILE: (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

UPDATE: Police said that the suspect for Friday’s assault and attempted kidnapping is in custody as of Saturday.

According to the Granite Police Department, the suspect was a 16-year-old boy who was a student at a “non-traditional program” in the Granite School District.

After getting a lead from security footage, the teenage suspect was placed into custody without issue and placed into juvenile detention.

“We are extremely grateful for the investigative efforts of Granite and West Valley City Police detectives and members of the community who came forward with tips and information over the past 48-hours,” reads the Granite PD statement.

KSL-TV has removed all images of the suspect due to their age. 

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Police are searching for a man they say tried to kidnap a third-grade girl and fled the area after a physical struggle.

Granite School District officials say the incident happened around 3:50 p.m. Thursday when the suspect approached the girl at Whittier Elementary School.

The man dragged the girl around the corner of the building and a physical struggle ensued. Police said the girl did the right thing and fought the suspect and screamed. She was able to get away from the suspect just as a school employee heard her screaming and approached the area.

The suspect fled the area on foot.

The safe and typically quiet neighborhood surrounding Whittier Elementary was shocked by what happened Thursday.

“For me, Whittier has always been a really safe elementary school, so to have that, it was pretty terrifying,” Nancy Lawes, whose daughter attends Whittier said.
This incident prompted some important conversations for parents about how to protect yourself from strangers.
“I have told my daughter, if someone comes up to you, especially if they try to hurt you, make as much noise as possible, punch, throw rocks, there is no limit to get away from that individual,” Lawes said.
Jerry Collins picks up his grandsons every day after school, and he said they always have a plan on where to meet and teaches him to always walk with a partner.

“We meet me at the flagpole each day, and he always gives me the thumbs up,” Collins said. “Just be aware of your surroundings kids, and always have a friend with you.”

West Valley City and Granite School District police are investigating several leads as they work to identify and capture the suspect. Officers said they believe the suspect is a juvenile but may be in his early 20s. Police described the suspect as being a 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 light-skinned African American/Somalian or Hispanic man, weighing between 150 and 160 pounds.

He was wearing a black beanie, a blue and gray sweatshirt and gray pants at the time of the incident.

If anyone recognizes the man or has any additional information regarding this case, they should contact Granite Police Department dispatch at 801–481–7122.

“The student is safe and was unharmed during this incident,” Granite police said. “We are grateful that one of our employees heard her screams and was able to assist her. We also commend this student for doing the right thing by making noise and fighting back. Our hope is that with community input, we are able to identify this individual as quickly as possible.”

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Juvenile in custody for West Valley City elementary school attempted kidnapping