GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — GRPD has arrested a man in connection to at least five attempted child abductions over the last several days on the northwest side of of the city.
He was taken into custody without incident about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, near a tent he is believed to have been living in near the area of Broadyway Ave & 5th Ave.
"We had practically every unit of our department working on this,” Sergeant John Wittkowski, GRPD, told gathered press Tuesday morning.
Police say the 5 attempted abductions have all happened since Thursday in the area of Alpine and Richmond, with two attempts happening in Richmond Park near Harrison School.
The man was allegedly trying to lure their kids with a story about looking for a lost dog. He also allegedly implied that he had a weapon on him in at least on of the incidents.
"The most recent incident which occurred yesterday involved a young man, a victim in Richmond Park. The sense of urgency increased with that incident, as an physical assault occurred," Sgt Wittkowski said.
The extent of the boy’s injuries are unknown at this time.
“As far as we know, every one of these young boys acted the way they were supposed to act. They fled the area, they spoke to an adult. They were completely forthcoming, and gave the information that they needed to give us, proper and accurate descriptions of who this predator was," Sgt Wittkowski said.
Police released 2 photos Monday evening of the suspect, pulled from a surveillance video found near one of his attempted abductions.
“We don't have enough officers on the beat to go knock door-to-door," Sgt. Wittkowski said. "We rely on 200,000 citizens and their eyes on the street. Somebody knew this guy, somebody recognized this guy.”
Their efforts quickly paid off— a man named Larry Allred knew immediately who was in those surveillance images.
"He's been in my neighborhood right there... He lived actually right by my house in a tent for like, eight months now,” Allred told FOX 17 Tuesday afternoon.
“He just kind of hangs out, stays around... and I put cameras up on all my sides of my property because, you know, just having that guy out there every day. It's just kind of weird.”
Allred was up around 4:00 a.m. Tuesday, and happened to see the images of the man online.
"I ran around the corner and took pictures of him, and he was still sleeping in his bed," Allred explained. "He looked at me, so I was worried that he was gonna take off."
Quickly dialing the police, they were able to come and arrest the man with little fanfare.
Police say they found no weapons on the man at the time he was arrested.
Allred was able to confirm the identity of the man to FOX 17, though we are not naming him at this time because he has not been charged with any crimes related to the attempted abductions at the time of this article being published.
“I'm just glad that he didn't hurt another child, or wasn't able to get a child. Everyone’s safer now, so that makes me feel better," Allred said Tuesday. "I know It sounds cliche, but I'm just hoping that the families feel safer and better about it.”
The suspect is a 39-year-old man, and is on Michigan's sex offender registry for a felony criminal sexual conduct conviction (2nd Degree) in June 2005.
According to online court records, the man pleaded guilty to the charge, which notes a victim under the age of 13, and received 1 year of jail time, with credit for 274 days he had already served.
Bill Hansen, owner of Hansen Mechanic and Tool Corp, was allowing the man to stay in a tent on a small piece of his property. He told FOX 17 Tuesday evening that he has allowed the man to live on his propeerety for about the last 2 and a half years, in some capacity.
Hansen says he was simply trying to do a nice thing, and help the man out in a difficult time. He says he had no idea until the man's arrest that he had any history of sexual violence.
He told FOX 17 that police showed up to his property around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday with a warrant to search the man's tent.
Detectives with GRPD were interviewing the man Tuesday. As to which charges he will face related to these alleged attempted abductions, that will be up to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office.
Michigan State Police offers the following safety tips to help keep your children safe:
- Parents should take an active role in their children's lives. Parents should know where their children are at all times, and be familiar with their children's friends and daily activities.
- Parents should teach their children to ask for permission from them first before going anywhere or with anyone.
- Parents should teach their children to use the "buddy system" and to never travel alone.
- Parents should teach their children that if something makes them feel uneasy or uncomfortable, they should get away quickly and tell their parents or a trusted adult about what had happened.
- Parents should teach their children that it is okay to be suspicious of an adult asking for assistance, many child predators use this technique to isolate and distract a possible child victim.
- Parents should assure their children that they have the right to say "no" when they sense something is wrong.
- Children should know their home address and telephone number, and know how to contact their parents if there is an emergency (for example; a relative's telephone number or the parent's work telephone number).
- The parents should devise a code word that the child can learn in case there is an emergency, and a trusted adult needs to contact the child. The child should be taught that the code word is special and should not be shared with their friends.
- Parents should teach their children how to dial "911" when asking for help in an emergency. Parents should teach their children that when they are talking on the telephone to the "911" operator, they should tell the person their name, speak loudly, slowly and clearly, and not to hang-up.