LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas – The Liberty County Sheriff's Office has issued a community alert after reports that a 13-year-old boy was nearly kidnapped at gunpoint Monday just after getting off the school bus.
"He got off the bus yesterday at the corner. We live just down the corner there. He says it was a car," said the boy's father, who asked that we conceal his identity.
Officials said the Cleveland Independent School District student got off the bus near his home in the 3700 block of County Road 3479, which is in the newly established subdivision in Plum Grove around 3:30 p.m.
The boy told deputies as he got off the bus he saw two men wearing smiley face masks in a small, gold-colored Lincoln vehicle driving toward him slowly.
"There were a few guys with masks and guns. They just told him get in the car. They wanted to pick him up," the boy's father said.
The boy said as the car got near him one of the men got out of the vehicle and told him to "get in the car."
Deputies said the boy started to walk away but one of the men pulled out what the boy described as a small black gun and demanded he get in the car.
The boy then began running toward his home and the men drove away.
The boy described the men as being possibly Hispanic, but was unable to determine their height, weight or age.
The sheriff is now asking that area residents and school bus drivers be on the alert for any suspicious vehicles, or one that matches the description of the assailants' car.
"I've ordered extra patrols to all the affected subdivisions," Cleveland ISD Police Chief Rex Evans said.
An investigation has determined the crime was not sexually motivated, it was not related to human trafficking, narcotics or retaliation towards the parents or family of the victim.
The investigation has also led detectives to two rival street gangs known as "MBG 13" and "Winwood." These two gangs are based in the greater Plum Grove area of Liberty County, just across the Harris County line in Cleveland ISD.
It should be noted, the victim is not associated in any way with any street gang. The investigation has determined the victim was randomly targeted by the suspects involved.
The school district sent students home with letters urging parents and guardians to "exercise extra caution and report any suspicious activity or behavior to the Cleveland ISD Police Department at 281-432-2908."
The boy's father told KPRC his son is OK and returned to school Tuesday.
"My son was kinda scared," he said. "(This) can be a danger now not only for me but anyone else, you know?"
Anyone who sees a suspicious vehicle or one that might fit the description of the one the boy described is asked to contact the Liberty County Sheriff's Office at 936-336-4500.