Search underway for man suspected of trying to lure a child with puppies in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – St. Petersburg police want to identify a man they say possibly tried to lure a child to his van last week, using puppies.

Detectives said the incident happened in the Fossil Park neighborhood, around 8:50 p.m. last Wednesday.

Mellisa Lester was at a little league baseball game with the her two sons. Lester said her eight-year-old, Jayden Miller, was playing on the bleachers when she noticed a man approach him.

“What intentions did he have, I don’t know. But they weren’t good. If they were good, he wouldn’t have ran off when my son came to me,” said Lester. “Ten feet from me and you’re trying to take my son.”

Miller said the man was with an older male.

“His friend said ‘do you want to go see my van, he has puppies’ and I said ‘no’ and after he kept asking me over and over, I went to mom,” said Jayden Miller. “I didn’t know what was going on and it was kind of creepy.”

The child ran to his mother and told her what happened when he got in the car.

Lester was able to give police a description.

Rick Shaw with St. Petersburg PD said, “She noticed a man that appeared to be between 20 to 30 years of age. He was wearing a yellow shirt, dirty blonde hair and carrying a skateboard.”

Shaw said the man may have also been wearing glasses.

“We don’t really know what his intentions were, but they seem a little off. Asking a little eight-year-old boy if you want to go to a van, look at puppies, that’s a little bit bizarre,” said Shaw.

Police have extra patrols in the area. They are working with Fossil Park board to try and figure out who the man is.

Lester said she’s just grateful her son didn’t follow him.

“I was thankful that he’s listened to me and didn’t go with strangers, but also there’s that gut feeling that he could have been kidnapped. The guy could have just grabbed him,” she said.

If you have any information, you’re asked to contact police.


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