Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated the children were walking home from the pool. The children were walking back from a community center that includes a pool and playground.
Residents of a Carolina Forest neighborhood chased a sports utility vehicle with masked men, who reportedly attempted to kidnap children Monday night.
Barbara Horn, who lives in Plantation Lakes, said her 10-year-old son and his 11-year-old friend were walking home from the neighborhood’s community center about 7:50 p.m. when a black Yukon SUV rolled up alongside them.
The men reportedly said “get in the car boy” and followed the children, who started to run.
A police report states there were four males in the SUV, and that a man wearing a pink mask got out of the vehicle at one point, then got back inside before speeding off.
The children ran to the first adult they saw, who happened to be a friend of the family, and someone who once was a police officer. Residents then began chasing the SUV at high speed down Carolina Forest Boulevard, Horn said.
“They went through The Farm at like 50 miles per hour,” she said. The incident report states the suspects were racing through the neighborhood, trying to lose the residents following them.
The chase bottomed out at a nearby gas station on River Oaks Drive where the people following the suspects confronted them, as the suspects were starting to get gas, a police report states. The suspects fled when the residents chasing them told them police had been called, but they were able to get their license plate information before the suspects left, Horn said.
She said herself and others also chased after them.
“We all took off in different vehicles, and now that I know my son was safe at home with other people, we all took off, because what if they have another kid,” Horn said.
She said she didn’t know of any children being reported missing from the neighborhood or others nearby. She said once she posted information about the incident to the neighborhood’s Facebook page, other residents reported that the alleged kidnappers threw rocks at another girl in the neighborhood, and others reported kidnapping attempts too, she said.
The incident report states a 13-year-old and 7-year-old boy were playing football outside a home on a different Plantation Lakes street when the black SUV drove up to them. The 13-year-old told police the suspects were masked by bandanas, and told the boys “Come get inside,” the report says. One of the suspects opened the door and got out, but then got back inside the SUV, then sped off, police said.
Officers found a home address after learning the plate number, but no one was at the house when they visited there, according to Horn, who said authorities are still investigating. A police report lists some information for one of the suspects, who’s listed as 15 years old, but the suspect’s name has been redacted. Officers noted they would continue to check the home in the report.
Krystal Dotson, Horry County police spokeswoman said no information on the suspect will be released as an arrest had not been made as of Tuesday afternoon.
Horn said she has lived in the neighborhood for a little more than a year and has never heard of any similar incidents happening there or close by.
“It’s terrifying. ... What I think is that people really need to educate their kids about ... I hate to use the word stranger danger, but that’s what it is ... Someone tells you not to scream, the first thing you do is scream your head off,” she said.
Going forward, she said the neighborhood should meet to discuss whether they should adopt new safety measures.
“We need to really have a meeting and figure out what to do, but most importantly educate every child about what to do when this kind of thing happens,” Horn said.