Report that man planned to kidnap Paso Robles boy isn't true, police say

acornejo@thetribunenews.comDecember 19, 2013 

Reports earlier this week that a man was possibly plotting to abduct a boy from a local school sometime before Christmas were untrue, Paso Robles police said Thursday.

A multi-agency investigation, spanning two days, determined that the whole thing was unfounded.

The Paso Robles Police Department warned school districts and law enforcement agencies countywide on Tuesday about the alleged child abduction plot, after a tip was called into the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.

The Paso Robles school district made automatic phone calls to all parents on Tuesday to alert them of the situation as security was ratcheted up at all campuses. Students, parents and teachers were cautioned to be extra vigilant.

Initial information from the school district also indicated that the unidentified man was a sex offender. That information is not true, police Lt. Tim Murphy said.

Detectives interviewed the tipster who called the school district and found that the man, who lives in Stockton, had “embellished information” he received from a woman in San Luis Obispo County. The woman is an estranged family member of the alleged suspect.

Detectives also interviewed the man who was alleged to be plotting the kidnapping. He cooperated fully in the investigation and was cleared of any wrongdoing, Murphy said.

The motive of the tipster is still unknown, Murphy said.

“The good side is this is a reminder that we can’t ever drop our guard,” said Murphy. “We all need to maintain vigilance and take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.”

The people interviewed by detectives are not being identified because no crime was committed, he said.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Murphy said. “If we determine that anyone involved committed a crime, we will pursue a criminal complaint. However, at this time it doesn’t appear anyone violated the law.”

The investigation was assisted by the California Highway Patrol Air Operations Unit, the Stockton Unified School District Police Department, the Lodi Police Department and deputies from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

Paso Robles school district spokesman Ashley Lightfoot said the incident showed that plans the district has in place for such threats do work.

“They are effective and they work because we have a very good working relationship with the Police Department,” said Lightfoot.”We were able to very quickly put together groups that we have trained and drilled with for situations like this and have all eyes on student safety.”

The district plans to notify parents that the threat was deemed unfounded, Lightfoot said.

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