Google Maps screenshot of Country Club Villas Condos.
A young boy narrowly escaped being kidnapped in Long Beach’s Los Cerritos neighborhood Monday evening, when he apparently ran away from two masked men who allegedly tried to grab him on his way to throw out the trash from his home.
Authorities said the eight-year-old was reported missing from his home by his mother at about 5:15PM on Monday, April 11 in a condominium complex on the 3700 block of Country Club Drive.
While police were speaking with the mother, the young boy arrived home, accompanied by a 61-year-old neighbor who said she encountered him, sobbing and barely running, in front of her home on the 3800 block of Pacific Avenue.
Diana Hershey, who lives less than half a mile from the family, said she was in her front yard when she heard a young child sobbing from a distance.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw him run past my driveway—I wasn’t close to my driveway—but I saw him run past... so I came out to the driveway… and by then he turned around and just looked kind of lost and started running back, still hysterically sobbing,” Hershey said.
When Hershey stopped him to find out what was wrong, he told her he had been taking out the trash just a few yards from his door when two men appeared wearing long sleeve shirts, gloves and masks. He said the men came from either side and knocked him down, causing him to hit his head on the ground in their attempt to grab him.
He later told his mother one of them had medium-length blonde hair.
“He kicked and wiggled himself away and he just ran, even after they stopped chasing him, he just ran and ran,” Hershey said. “He was about ready to fall down when i saw him.”
Though too scared to get into Hershey’s car, the boy did agree to walk with her back to his home.
According to Hershey, the complex is not gated and has open walkways to the units. The boy lives in a unit deep within the complex.
The boy's mother said on social media that she turned her sight away from her son for a brief moment, and when she did not see him she went out looking for him.
“I’ve never experienced anything more terrifying in my life,” the mother said. “I have other children and it petrifies me.”
Hershey said this was the first time she’s heard of an attempted kidnapping of a child in the area in which she has lived since 1960, but said the incident shows it can happen anywhere.
“This can happen to you, it can happen to your neighbor and we have to watch out not just for our children but for everybody’s children,” Hershey said.
The incident remains under investigation. No arrests were made and the suspects are unknown, Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) spokesman Brad Johnson said.