Addressing Rumors Of Attempted Child Abduction At North Park

Released October 19, 2023 12:27 PM
At 7:39 last night (October 18, 2023), Alpharetta police officers were dispatched to North Park for a suspicious person call which was rumored to be a possible child abduction. Officers met with a softball coach who reported a 6-year-old boy at the park had a man attempt to lure him into the woods by the playground. The officer spoke with both the mother of the boy and the boy who stated that the incident took place at around 7:00 PM. 

This morning, while continuing the investigation, officers and detectives have spoken to all parties involved, including the male who was allegedly involved in the incident.  After speaking with both him and the mother of the child listed in the report, it has been determined that this was not an abduction attempt.  

The investigation has revealed that the man in the photo is a father who lives next to North Park and walks the trails with his son weekly. He happened to be walking through the woods where the boy was playing. The boy’s mother was in communication with the boy via his Apple watch and heard the man talking in the background of the conversation.  She told her son to not go with the man and to start screaming so she could find him. The boy’s screaming caught the attention of other people at the park, one of whom took the photograph that was provided at the time of the report.  The photograph was taken after the child returned to his mother and the man was with his own son at the swings in the park. When the report was made last night, the boy had told his mother that the man asked him to go with him toward a road.  A conversation that the mother had with the boy this morning revealed that the child had misrepresented what occurred, and that the man never attempted to get the child to go with him.

This situation is an excellent example of why both the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety and the City of Alpharetta are careful with the information that is released and when it is released. 

You will notice, for example, that the City did not include in our posts the photo provided to us of a possible suspect. Why?  Because doing so prematurely could hinder an investigation but also because putting a photo into the public sphere without being certain that the individual in the photo is a “suspect” or “person of interest” could potentially subject an innocent person to persecution in the court of public opinion. The person in the photo that was provided to our detectives by a well-meaning citizen has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, because some citizens have chosen to post the image on social media with an “alert” about an attempted child abduction, the person in that photo has been placed under a cloud that will take time to lift. On that note, we ask and urge any who have posted the photo to delete those posts so that misinformation does not continue to be spread and an innocent person’s reputation is not damaged.

We know that everyone who was posting things on social media about this situation did so with the best of intentions, to protect our community and our children.  It is important to always keep in mind, however, that posting things on social media or even talking about them when we do not have all the facts can have harmful consequences for innocent people.