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’We need him to stop’: Galveston police say woman saved herself by making scene in string of attempted kidnappings

GALVESTON, Texas – Galveston police said a man is on the loose in a string of kidnappings in September in Galveston and the victims' efforts to make a scene helped save them.

Det. Michelle Sollenberger said one woman’s efforts to make a scene and scream helped “save her” when the man tried to throw her into a vehicle.

The attacks on women in Galveston happened as Tropical Storm Beta moved in and the detective said the man preyed on women who were in a vulnerable position. One of the women was taking her shoes off and wading in water across a street and another was taking photos of the storm surge.

Police released a digital sketch on Monday of the man investigators say attempted to kidnap four women in a span of five days in late September. Sollenberger said all of the victims say the digital sketch looks like the man who approached them.

Police said a man approached a 60-year-old woman on Sept. 20 around 9:10 p.m. near the intersection of 20th street and Strand. He left his vehicle and approached her, but she ran into her apartment, police said. The man circled the block for several minutes searching for her, police said. She managed to take a photo of his vehicle before he left the area, according to police.

Shortly after that incident, at 9:40 p.m. the same night, a 45-year-old woman was approached by the same man in the vehicle at the intersection of 22nd Street and Market, police said. The man asked for directions and then exited the vehicle, grabbed the woman and attempted to push her into the backseat of his vehicle, police said. She escaped from him and ran, but he caught her and tackled her to the ground, police said. She screamed repeatedly and fought with the man and several people were alerted to the attack, police said.

“I always encourage people to be aware of their surroundings,” Sollenberger said. “... People don’t approach you, especially in this time of social distancing. ... Let’s cause a scene. To be quite honest, causing a scene in the 22nd and Market incident is what saved her.”

Just five days later on Sept. 25, a similarly described suspect and vehicle approached two women walking with a man leaving an establishment near 82nd and Stewart.

Police said the man confronted the two women and made the statement to the man with them that he “just wanted the girls.” When he was told to leave the women alone, police said a short confrontation happened and the man fled in his vehicle.

Police said the man is Hispanic, between 5 feet 3 inches tall to 5 feet 5 inches tall in height with a thin but muscular build. He’s between 25 to 40 years old. He wore dark pants, a short sleeve t-shirt and tennis shoes. He has no distinct facial hair and he spoke Spanish and English. Sollenberger said she had a “gut feeling” that he’s not a resident of Galveston, but after the subsequent attempted kidnappings days after the others, she thinks he’s someone that frequents Galveston.

Police said they believe he is driving a burgundy or maroon 4-door Honda Accord, around a 2008 to 2010 model. There was a child’s or toddler car seat in the back on the driver’s side, police said.

Police say the man has not displayed a weapon in any of the attempted kidnappings.

If you have any information, contact Galveston Police 409-765-3770. Sollenberger said every lead will be followed up on.

The sketch of a man authorities said tried to kidnap women in the Galveston area in September 2020.
The sketch of a man authorities said tried to kidnap women in the Galveston area in September 2020. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)
A photo of a car believed to be driven by an attempted kidnapping suspect, according to Galveston Police.
A photo of a car believed to be driven by an attempted kidnapping suspect, according to Galveston Police. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

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