Rumors prompt Gadsden district to issue warning to parents
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A rumor of a child abduction circulating on social media has prompted the Gadsden Elementary School District to distribute fliers to parents, urging steps to ensure the safety of children walking between home and class.
Gadsden district and San Luis police spokesmen say there's no truth to the rumor, but it comes on the heels of the kidnapping in March of a 14-year-old girl who was later released by the abductor.
According to the rumor making the rounds on social media, a student of Southwest Junior High School was abducted recently.
The rumor may have been fueled by similar rumors or reports of kidnapping circulating in neighboring San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., and elsewhere in Mexico, said Rocio Godoy, spokeswoman for the Gadsden district.
In any event, Gadsden schools on Friday sent home with students a flier urging parents to discuss precautions against abduction with their children.
“There has been no kidnapping or kidnapping attempt in the (Gadsden) district schools, but we know that there is a concern among parents over what has been happening in Mexico,” Godoy said. “So this is just to ask parents to take precautions.”
The flier urges parents to remind children walk to and from school in groups or pairs, to refuse rides from strangers and to maintain communication with parents after leaving home.
Nearly 5,400 students attend eight schools in the Gadsden district, most of which are within the San Luis city limits where “many children don't take the bus but rather walk from their homes to school,” said Godoy.
“So we know there are risks. Some of them go to Mexico after school, so that's another reason it was important to circulate the flier.”
San Luis police have received no reports of an abduction or an attempted kidnapping of a Southwest Junior High student, although a reported sighting of suspicious persons near one of the schools is under investigation, said police spokesman Tadeo De la Hoya.
“We can't release any more details,” he said. “It's under investigation. What we can say is that there has been no report of a kidnapping in the area of any of the district schools.”
De la Hoya said police, meanwhile, are continuing an investigation into the reported kidnapping in March of a 14-year-old San Luis High School student who was on her way to class.
Police said the girl had been walking in the 600 block of 10th Avenue in the morning when she said she accepted a ride from a man driving a minivan. The man reportedly covered the girl's face with a rag laced with a chemical that caused her to pass out, police said.
She later was dropped off near her home, police said, adding that she apparently had not been sexually molested.