Police, school leaders warn Bridgman parents about abduction attempt

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BRIDGMAN, Mich. (WNDU) - Police and school leaders in Bridgman urge parents to warn their children about strangers after a man attempted to abduct a middle school student Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday just before 4:30 p.m., a man driving a black car with tinted windows and possibly a Florida license plate reportedly approached a middle school girl walking from Toth Street Park and asked if she wanted a ride.

When the girl refused, the man put on a ski mask, got out of the vehicle and grabbed the girl by the arm.

Thankfully, she managed to get free and run to get help.

The would-be abductor was described as a white man, possibly in his 40s, who stands at about 5 feet, 9 inches tall and is slim in appearance.

“Sometimes I’m out walking the dog around while the kids are playing, so to hear this news is very frightening and kind of hits home,” said Deidre Holgate, a mother living in Bridgman.

Holgate and her family moved a couple years ago in search of a small town to call home, and she didn’t think something like this could happen in Bridgman.

“When you hear something like this happens, you know it can happen anywhere, so you just have to teach your kids to do what she did,” Holgate said.

“She reacted exactly what she should’ve done,” said Chief Daniel Unruh with the Bridgman Police Department. “If any child doesn’t recognize the person pulling up, if you don’t feel comfortable, continue walking, if not run, if not get on a phone, or scream or yell.”

School leaders say it’s up to every citizen to help ensure the safety of their community.

“It’s our duty as citizens to continue to know our surroundings and be vigilant about what might not be normal and to report that,” said Shane Peters, the superintendent of Bridgman Public Schools.

School leaders have notified all parents and staff, particularly bus drivers, to keep eyes and ears out for any suspicious activity around town.

Superintendents of other school districts in the county have also been notified of the incident.

Anyone with information should call Bridgman police at 269-465-3880 or call dispatch at the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.