Friday, March 17, 2000

Students save boy from attacker

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Glenn Walker and Tiffany Bond.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        As Tiffany Bond and Glenn Walker headed toward the University of Cincinnati campus for early exams Wednesday, their minds were jumbles of chemistry and math calculations. But when they turned from Wheeler Street onto McMillan Street what they saw distressed them more than any impending test ever could.

        “We thought it was just two roommates scuffling in front of a building,” said Mr. Walker, 24.. “But then we saw that one of them was a little boy.”

        A man was sitting on a 13-year-old, punching him in the face.

        “I looked around and there were people everywhere, but nobody was doing anything,” Mr. Walker said.

        Police say the two UC students came to the rescue of the teen, who was grabbed as he was walking to catch a school bus. His assailant pulled him into a hallway at 211 W. McMillan. As they struggled, the boy freed himself and ran outside, but was caught again. Authorities charged Robert Scott Lane, 26, of 209 W. McMillan, with gross sexual imposition, assault and resisting arrest.

        While Ms. Bond went to call police, Mr. Walker found a discarded broomstick and confronted the man as the boy lay beneath him, pleading for help.

        Mr. Walker said the man lunged at him and he struck at the man with the broomstick. The force of the blow broke the stick, but the man was unfazed.

        By this time, Ms. Bond, 20, had returned and the boy took shelter behind her.

        “I kept thinking, "We have to keep hitting this man with stuff,'” she said. “Nothing was affecting him.”

        She found a bottle and a piece of cement and threw them at the attacker. Then she threw a garbage can.

        It took at least four police officers to restrain the man.

        The father of the boy said Thursday he is grateful to the two UC students who saved his son.

        “I'd like to invite them to his birthday party next month,” he said, adding that the boy is the second-oldest of six children. He said he has talked with his three boys and three girls about stranger-danger.

        The boy was walking to a corner of McMillan and Wheeler to catch the school bus. His attacker had been standing at the curb spitting and making obscene gestures to passing cars.

        “He kind of laughed to himself and kept walking past the man,” the boy's father said. “It didn't occur to him to walk around the man or cross the street because he thought he could handle himself. But as he passed the man, he grabbed his book bag and dragged him into the building. He wasn't ready. He was taken by surprise.”

        Experts say preteens and teen-agers are the most likely targets for abduction for this very reason.

        “They think that nothing is going to happen to them because they're older and they can take care of themselves,” said Hamilton County sheriff's Cpl. Steve Schnitker, the department's crime prevention coordinator. “Most people think that the prime abductees are toddlers or 5, 6, 7 year olds. That's not true.”

        He said parents should make older children more aware of their surroundings. “Don't scare them, but encourage them to use their sixth sense. If something doesn't feel right, avoid it,” he said.

        Also, he said, school bags should be held loosely so if someone tries to grab it that's the only thing they'll get.

        If a child is grabbed, he said, the child should fight and make as much noise as possible to attract attention. “Yell: "You are not my parent!' and go for the eyes. Don't allow yourself to be taken anywhere.”

        Ms. Bond urged others to help. “I just hope that more people will be willing to get involved if they see someone who needs help,” she said. “If it happens out in public, it's everybody's business.”


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