The Paso Robles Police Department is warning parents that a man may be intending to abduct a boy from a local school sometime before Christmas.
Police issued a press release late Tuesday that the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District received a tip at about 1 p.m. about the possible abduction plan from a tipster who had gotten the information from someone else. District officials contacted Paso Robles police and also told the tipster to contact the police.
Information given by the tipster indicates the possible suspect may be a registered sex offender, a school district spokesman said.
The suspect is described as a white male in his 60s, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 220 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. The suspect reportedly drives a white Ford pickup with a camper shell and had been scouting various schools in the area, according to Paso Robles police.
“We have no information regarding whether the suspect intended to target a subject known to him or not,” police Lt. Tim Murphy said. Murphy said the tipster lives in California but not in San Luis Obispo County.
“We are still investigating the case and do not have a location for the suspect in this incident,” he said Tuesday night in an email. “The investigation is ongoing and all possible leads are being looked into. Anything beyond that would be speculation at best.”
School district spokesman Ashley Lightfoot said the tipster contacted Superintendent Kathy McNamara and identified himself or herself.
“This person doesn’t live in the school district,” Lightfoot said. “They had come across this information and felt obligated — thankfully — to warn us of it.”
Lightfoot said the tipster gave specific information about the suspect. “That information popped up very prominently on the Megan’s Law list,” he said. The suspect is registered as living in the county but not in the Paso Robles school district, Lightfoot said.
Police said that school districts throughout the county and all law enforcement agencies were notified of the possible abduction plan. Murphy said security at all Paso Robles school campuses has been beefed up with additional district staff and police officers.
“I will not be releasing any additional details on this facet of the investigation so as not to compromise our security efforts,” he said. “Parents should follow the direction provided to them by school district officials. They should remind their children to be aware of their surroundings, stay away from strangers, and always report any suspicious activity to the police as soon as possible.”
Lightfoot added that children who walk to school should walk with friends and not alone. “That would be especially important now,” he said.
The district sent recorded phone calls to parents from Superintendent Kathy McNamara on Tuesday evening, notifying them of the situation and advising that heightened security was in effect. McNamara could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
A teacher at Pat Butler Elementary School in Paso Robles said all teachers were told Tuesday afternoon about the possible abduction plan, given the suspect description and instructed to be especially watchful when sending their students home at the end of the day.
“We are taking this very seriously,” Lightfoot said. “The police department is taking this very seriously.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Paso Robles Police Department, or Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-STOP. A web tip can be left on the Crime Stoppers website at www.slotips.org. A text tip can be sent by texting “slotips” and a message to CRIMES (274637).