A Syracuse man is now facing charges after allegedly trying to kidnap a 9-year old girl from her bus stop.
Police said Darnell Williams, 30, approached the girl last Monday as she was waiting for her bus at the corner of West Borden and Landon avenues in Syracuse. There's a small park with birdhouses and colorful benches, seemingly kid-friendly.
"At one point he used force, grabbed onto her jacket, and also displayed a knife to her," said Syracuse Police Public Information Officer, Sargent Matthew Malinowski.
She ran home and reported the incident to a family member. Workers at the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center say the first step in avoiding similar situations is to talk about them with your kids.
We would hope that kids have that knowledge and those skills to stand up for themselves," said McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center Senior Outreach Specialist Derek Tefft. "Listening to their feelings and instincts, but we know that's not always the case. Maybe families haven't had these conversations before. It can be very confusing for kids."
Child advocates say to reinforce the importance of being cautious around strangers and remind kids of safe places to go.
"... Just speaking to your kids about listening to their feelings and trusting their instincts anytime they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Helping them identify who are trusted adults that they can go to, people with the family," said Tefft.
In less than a week, police made an arrest. Williams is charged with attempted kidnapping, as well as menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.
"Everything in the system worked. I'm assuming her parents told her what to the right thing to do was. This could have turned out a lot different if the child wasn't equipped with the right information," said Malinowski.
Police say cases like these are rare, but it's a reminder to keep an eye on kids in our communities. You can also register your kids with Operation SAFE CHILD through events put on by your local sheriff's office. They create an ID card with your child's picture and digital fingerprints.