DEER PARK, TX - Authorities need the public's help identifying a suspect accused of attempting to kidnap three young girls in the Deer Park and Pasadena areas. In one case, police said the suspect pulled out a gun and tried to threaten one of the girls.
Mailee and Anna Vega have always warned their 11-year-old daughter to be aware of her surroundings, especially while walking to school.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Multiple attempted kidnappings of young girls have police on high alert
On Monday morning, moms' advice came in handy.
"She’s calling me and she said, ‘mom, someone’s following me' and she starts bawling," said Vega.
Within five minutes of leaving her house, surveillance video captures a man in a gray sedan following the 11-year-old girl down the street for nearly a minute, refusing to leave.
"The first time he pulled up and slowed down, and he asked her for directions," Vega said. "She’s 11, she’s not going to know."
Vega said the man then pulls up closer to the sidewalk in his car, claiming he couldn’t hear the girl and asked her to come closer. That’s when Vega said her daughter called her, crying.
"He started yelling at her. 'What are you doing on your phone? Get off your phone. Give it to me. Show me what you’re doing. Don’t call anyone. Don’t report me.' All this stuff that’s like obviously you know you’re doing something wrong," Vega said.
The suspect is then seen on video speeding off in reverse and the girl runs to safety at a neighbor’s house.
Deer Park Police believe that the same suspect also attempted to kidnap two other young girls in Pasadena that same morning, using the same tactics, seen in the same car, except this time he was at the intersection of Red Bluff Road and Preston Avenue.
In one instance, authorities said the suspect pulled out a gun and threatened to hurt the girl if she didn’t comply.
"We know that it’s a white or light-skinned Hispanic male, early 20s, stubble, goatee, medium build and we believe it’s a dark-colored Honda Civic with a sunroof and dark wheels," said Lt. Chris Brown with the Deer Park Police Dept.
Authorities say in the age of smartphones, it is not normal for an adult to be asking kids for directions or help with tasks.
Deer Park Police said they have increased patrols at all schools in the area and are asking parents to be extra vigilant. Authorities are warning kids to be aware of their surroundings and to alert an adult if someone suspicious is nearby.
Anyone who recognizes the individual is asked to call Deer Park PD or Pasadena PD at 713-475-7266.