‘It wasn’t a kidnapping, it was pranks,’ police chief says after Carolina Forest scare

Police have said the reported kidnapping attempt in a Carolina Forest subdivision this week was just a prank.

No charges had been filed in the case as of Thursday.

“I can’t speculate as to whether it was a prank or not. After things like that happen, what are you going to say? ‘Yes, I intended to hurt somebody?’ You’re not going to say that,” said Dr. Barb Horn as she stood outside the Plantation Lakes community center Wednesday night. Less than a mile away, two nights prior, her 10-year-old son and his 11-year-old friend ran into masked teens in a black Yukon, she said.

The teens reportedly told the kids to get in their car. The young boys were walking home from the playground and quickened their steps when they were confronted, according to an incident report.

“At one point, they caught up to them again, to my son, and opened the door as if they were going to try to come get him. So they ran to the first person, the first adult they saw, who happens to be one of our closest friends and she’s an ex-police officer. She knew exactly what to do,” Horn said.

The family friends hopped in their own car and chased the speeding Yukon to a nearby gas station, where they confronted the teens and snapped a photo of their license plate, according to the report. Police say the teens sped away again.

The incident was reported to police as a kidnapping.

“It wasn’t a kidnapping, it was pranks,” Horry County police Chief Joe Hill said after a public safety committee meeting Wednesday.

Hill said there were four males in the black Yukon and all four were interviewed by police.

“They were messing around,” Hill said of the teens.

“The incident appears to be a misguided prank at this time by at least one of the occupants of the Yukon, and there is no danger to the public,” the Horry County Police Department said in a post on Facebook Thursday afternoon.

The names of the teens in the Yukon were redacted from the police report.

Horn says she doesn’t know who they are.

“People who know who they are say they’re a good family,” Horn said. “I do not know if there is going to be charges or not. We have a meeting with the detective coming up pretty soon. So we’re going to talk with them, get some more details and find out what’s next.”

Educate your children

The incident — whether intentional or a prank — has shaken the Carolina Forest community.

“We’re not in complete panic-mode. At this point, we’re in the mode of educate your children and we’re going to get together and … figure out what … we need to do as far as (increasing) security,” Horn said.

“I think that we always need to educate our children,” she said, because kids “need to know how to get to somebody for help if it’s ever needed.”

Her son did the right thing, she said.

“He went to the first adult and then he came right to us. He handled it very well,” Horn said. “Thank God he wasn’t hurt because even when you try to do the right thing, sometimes it doesn’t work out well.”

Plantation Lakes is a relatively peaceful neighborhood where crime is rare. But the incident Monday opened eyes.

“I think we’re going to be a little more cautious now,” Horn said.

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily