Reports of an alleged kidnapping from an area playground near Lake Olmstead drew scores of Richmond County deputies and investigators in a heated search for a reportedly missing 2-year-old girl Tuesday evening before officials later called it a “suspicious situation” instead.
About 8:53 p.m., the sheriff’s office was told a man had taken a child from Lake Olmstead Park and was last seen running with the child towards the nearby stadium, according to Richmond County police dispatch. The child was reported as wearing a pink jumper outfit with her hair in a ponytail and sporting several multi-colored bows. The suspect was described at the time as a black man wearing black shorts and a white T-shirt.
But after searching the area in and around the stadium and Lake Olmstead itself for nearly two hours, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Monica Belser told The Chronicle “the situation may be more minor than we initially thought. We can’t give any additional details other than the first report was probably more significant than what really took place.”
Belser then issued a news release at 11:04 p.m. confirming no abduction had in fact taken place and no child had been reported missing.
“Deputies and Supervisors conducted preliminary investigations to determine that a child abduction had not occurred, nor has any child been reported missing,” Belser said in the release. “No credible information has been provided to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at this time. Investigators were able to conclude this incident was a suspicious situation.”
According to police dispatch, an unidentified “witness” earlier in the evening said they saw the child “kicking and screaming and saying ‘this is not my daddy.’”
But nearby resident Britney Johnson said she never saw or heard any disturbance - until all the police cars arrived.
“I’ve been sitting on my porch since 7:45 p.m. and I didn’t see anything suspicious,” Johnson said. “Next thing I know, all these cops are outside of my house. But like I said, I didn’t see the suspect or the child go by.”