LOS ANGELES -- An 11-year-old girl was able to escape from her kidnapper’s car on Thursday and free another young girl who was already in the backseat crying when the victim was forcibly pulled into the attacker’s red convertible, according to police.
The girl was walking alone at 2:35 p.m. local time (5:35 p.m. ET) by Founders Park in Whittier, Calif., when she was grabbed and thrown into the backseat of a car, where a younger girl -- about 7 years old -- was already seated, officials said in a news release.
"She knew at that point, I guess, that she was in a bad spot," said Lt. Kent Miller with Whittier police.
Miller said he was not sure about the circumstances that led to the girls’ escape, saying there was an "opportunity" and the pair, who did not know each other, ran in opposite directions.
The 11-year-old ran home and called 911. Police are unsure of where the other girl is, though the department has not received any reports of missing children.
Police believe the man may be responsible for similar incidents in the area and are asking for the public’s help in identifying him.
On the morning of Feb. 5, a 17-year-old girl was offered a ride from a man driving a red convertible. When she declined, the driver stopped the car and opened the door before the girl fled and called police.
That incident happened at 11:35 a.m. in the 13000 block of Broadway, several blocks from where Thursday’s attack occurred, police said.
Hours later at 4:40 p.m., a witness reported seeing two high-school-aged girls get into a verbal confrontation with a man who ordered the pair to get into his car in the 6700 block of Washington Avenue.
Police said the witness did not get the girls’ names and the department did not receive any calls from the alleged victims in this case.
In all three incidents, the man was seen driving a red convertible with a tan roof. He is described as Latino, between 25 and 35 years old, about 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall, with a medium to heavy build.
Thursday’s victim said the man had short black hair and a tattoo of three dots on his left hand.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9241 or Detective Woods at 562-567-9286.