A 12-year-old girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by two men while walking to school Tuesday, prompting stepped-up police patrols, school warnings and fundamental change in a quiet Gilbert neighborhood.
“You can’t walk by yourself anymore,” said 16-year-old Kim Feldbauer, who lives in the Windrift subdivision, where the girl was abducted.
The two men drove alongside the girl as she walked to Greenfield Junior High School about 7:20 a.m. near Linda Lane and Bruce Avenue. They dragged her into their truck, put a bag over her head, drove to another place in Gilbert and sexually assaulted her, said Gilbert police Lt. Ken Fixel. They then drove to another spot and released her. She was treated at the Mesa Center for Violence.
Fixel said police are concerned about the case because there is more than one abductor.
“It’s very disconcerting to us,” he said.
The passenger of the truck is described as white with a thin build, a goatee and a deep voice. A description of the driver was not available, police said. The truck was described as an orange older-model pickup with bucket seats and a standard cab. Police released no other details.
Police immediately increased patrols in the neighborhood after receiving news of the assault. The Gilbert Unified School District sent letters to all parents of Greenfield Junior High students and to other elementary schools in the area alerting them about the attack, said district spokeswoman Dianne Bowers.
Counselors were at the junior high school all day Tuesday and will be there again today.
Police recommend that parents make sure their children get onto the school bus, or if possible, drive them to school. If children walk to school, police recommend they travel in groups.
“You think you’re safe here,” said Lori Goodman, 44, a child care provider who lives nearby. “That’s why people move to Gilbert.”
Goodman, who has a 6-year-old daughter, said she is frightened that similar incidents could happen because there are a lot of children in the neighborhood.
“You just don’t have the sense of security that you had before,” she said.
Schoolchildren in the neighborhood were also reeling from news of the attack.
Michael Kerns, 16, said he previously ignored his mother’s warnings to be safe. Kerns said he would tell his mother: “Don’t worry, nothing happens around here.”
“I can’t say that anymore,” he said.
The Gilbert Police Department asks that anyone with information about this crime call (480) 503-6500.