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PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Palmetto police investigate possible child abduction

PALMETTO — Palmetto Police are investigating a possible abduction after a 9-year-old boy told authorities he witnessed another boy getting snatched off a bicycle.

At about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the witness was two blocks away when he saw a boy he didn’t know riding a bicycle north on 24th Avenue West, said Palmetto Police Lt. Scott Tyler.

When the boy on the bicycle reached the intersection of 17th Street West, two men exited a four-door silver sedan with tinted windows and grabbed him, according to the witness.

Police and deputies with Manatee County Sheriff’s Office canvassed a quiet residential neighborhood just a mile from the Manatee County Fairgrounds to talk to residents. A reverse 911 call for the north portion of the county was conducted at about 8 p.m.

As of 10 p.m., police still had no reports of a missing child.

The boy appeared to be about 9 to 10 years old and 5 feet tall with medium dark wavy hair, Tyler said.

“We have to react for the worst just to make sure,” he said.

Tyler said the search would continue until a child is identified or police can find an explanation for what happened.

In the meantime, the case is being treated as a kidnapping, he said.

“We don’t know if this is a bunch of kids who knew each other and it’s horse play, but we’re treating it as a kidnapping,” Tyler said.

The witness reported the incident about 30 minutes after he saw it.

James Smith, 63, of Palmetto, lives near the intersection where the possible abduction took place. He said although the neighborhood is quiet for the most part, he wouldn’t be surprised if something happened.

“With today’s society, I wouldn’t even venture a guess. ... We don’t even go outside by ourselves anymore,” he said standing in his driveway.

He said it’s common to see children riding their bikes in the area, especially with Palmetto High School nearby.

The witness told officers that the boy appeared to be struggling with the men and was pushed into the backseat. The men placed the bicycle in the trunk, Tyler said.

The car was last seen heading east on 17th Street.

Tyler said the men in the car were wearing jeans. One was wearing a dark blue or black shirt. The other was wearing a red shirt.

Anyone with any information can contact Palmetto Police Department at 723-4587.

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