Authorities in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are intensifying their search for two suspects involved in the alleged attempted kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl at the Willow Grove Mall on the evening of July 12.
According to the Abington Township Police Department, the incident occurred at approximately 7 p.m. The victim, who was riding down an escalator, encountered an adult male identified as “Alex” at the bottom.
The man, described as a Black male between 25 and 40 years old with a goatee and short braids, requested the girl to accompany him. The girl attempted to distance herself from the suspect; however, he forcefully restrained her by grabbing her arm and proceeded to lead her through the mall.
Fortunately, the teen managed to break free from the man’s grip and screamed for help as she fled. Several bystanders witnessed the incident and intervened, preventing the suspect from approaching the girl. The suspects, including the one identified as “Alex,” promptly left the mall following the intervention by the bystanders. They were last seen entering a dark gray “crossover” type vehicle believed to be a Dodge Journey. The ordeal was caught on security camera footage.
“This was particularity disturbing, a crime like this,” Abington Township Police Chief Patrick Molloy told NBC10. “This is one where your heart skips a beat.”
At the time of their initial investigation, Abington police stated that no arrests had been made, but recent developments indicate that one of the suspects, Khalilh Evans, a 44-year-old Philadelphia resident, is now in custody.
According to NBC10, U.S. Marshals apprehended Evans the following day, charging him with false imprisonment of a minor. Evans was on probation during the incident and has a lengthy criminal record, including weapons offenses, aggravated assault and terroristic threats.
Molloy later expressed his deep concern regarding the incident and called for the need for a safer environment for children. “This as you could imagine — being a father — we have sisters and nieces, I don’t think there’s a crime that’s more scary than this,” he said. “Because God knows what the intentions were of these individuals.”
Molloy also cited the city’s lenient criminal justice system as factor contributing to dangerous felons being released back onto the streets. “I think some of the failed policies in Philadelphia with the District Attorney’s Office, where it’s somewhat of a revolving door, where dangerous felons are let back onto the street to prey upon our citizens,” he said. “And this is a particularly disturbing case because these are innocent children. This shouldn’t have happened. He should’ve been detained. He should’ve been in jail. And I know there’s a lot of things that go into those decisions on why people are back on the street. But this here is a disgrace. We need to do a better job. The system failed.”
The investigation is ongoing, with authorities still working to determine the exact role of the second suspect believed to have been involved in the abduction attempt. Police described him as a Black man with thick facial hair, wearing a dark blue T-shirt, jean shorts, and white-and-black sneakers.
In response to the incident, the owner of Willow Grove Park Mall reaffirmed his commitment to public safety.
“As always the safety and security of our shoppers is a top priority,” the owner wrote. “We were pleased to learn that one of the suspects was apprehended and we will continue to cooperate with the Abington P.D. in their investigation. We are thankful to both bystanders and authorities for their prompt reaction.”