Abduction Attempted at Westside Elementary

MARCH 1, 2006 -- POSTED AT 8:45 P.M. CST, updated at 7:26 a.m. CST on 3/2/06

JONESBORO, AR -- It was every parent's nightmare.

On Monday, a stranger walked right through the front door at Westside Elementary and approached a child. Fortunately, the child immediately ran back to the classroom and told her teacher about the intruder.

It happened early in the school day. An intruder walked through the school's main entrance, heading straight for the girl's bathroom. That's where a child was approached by the stranger. What the intruder said was startling.

"We believe it was along the lines of, 'Your parents told you to come with me'," says Dr. James Best, Westside Superintendent.

The only witness is the child who was approached, bringing forth a harsh reality for Westside's Administration. A stranger entered their school with no detection and could have easily abducted a student.

"We had no choice but to take this seriously and assume the worst, and that's what we're doing," says Best.

This situation has everyone - parents, students and staff wondering how this could've happened.

"Well, it's kind of scary, I think they are taking measures to make things better. I know this Watch D.O.G. program that they have going now is going to provide extra eyes," says Tony Manley, Westside Parent and Watch D.O.G. Volunteer.

The Watch D.O.G. program was inspired by the 1998 Westside shootings, an effort to keep kids safe. But in this instance, it was the student who protected herself.

"Our counselors work very closely with the kids in that building to arm them with the knowledge of what to do when a stranger approaches them and we believe in this case the child handled herself just absolutely beautifully, did exactly what she was supposed to do," says Dr. Best.

As for the kids at Westside School, it was as if it never happened. They continue to go about their day, but the parents only hope it's a school day that will never be interrupted again.

Meanwhile, the incident remains under investigation by school officials, including the school resource officer, and the Craighead County Sheriff's Department.