Out Shopping, and You See This?

If you witnessed the following incident in a Target store parking lot, what would you think just happened?

A few weeks ago,I discussed the Anne Sluti case that involved a 17-year-old victim being attacked and kidnapped during broad daylight at a Nebraska shopping mall.

Authorities in Stafford County, Virginia issued an Amber Alert after the 17 year-old girl in the video above was also believed to have been kidnapped.

The next day, the victim was found with her family--allegedly unharmed.

Authorities now believe that the incident was not an abduction, but they are continuing to investigate whether any charges will be filed over the filmed altercation.

What is the story that was offered to police about the parking lot struggle?

The victim's family was moving to Florida and the daughter did not want to go with them.


How is a bystander supposed to tell a real kidnapping from a hoax?

I don't have a great answer for that one. My advice is, when seeing something suspicious, err on the safe side and contact police immediately--providing the license plate information (as the good folks did in the video above), if at all possible.

Giving law enforcement that crucial information is worth the risk of embarrassing someone as opposed to missing an opportunity to save a life.


Note: The Washington Post's article on the story contains an extended version (over 4 minutes) of the parking lot struggle caught on camera--the action starts about two minutes into the clip as the van and persons on foot are seen chasing the woman through the parking lot.  Unrelated to the incident, I did have to laugh at the woman at the 30 second mark who tries to roll one of those giant red balls outside the Target with her leg--my kids are always trying to kick, push, and pounce on those. 


Matthew Rush said...

That is crazy. If a family has to physically force their child into a vehicle in that manner something else must not be right at home.

My kids occasionally don't listen to us but I can't imaging having to use physical violence to force them to do something.

Glad to hear that it was not an abduction but also that people did call the authorities. It certainly looked bad on video.

Sue said...

It took me watching the video on the news site once to realize why it was so long. We are watching the woman, teen, and van throughout the entire video. It's interesting to watch how the teen walked through the parking lot (starting in the upper left corner of the screen) and was followed by the van and the woman throughout, at one point running from them.

I agree with Matthew. If you have to force your child into the vehicle in that manner, there's something wrong. That was awful to see.

I agree with you, I'd rather embarrass somebody than let somebody die or get hurt.

J. J. in Phila said...

The was a similar situation in Philadelphia last week. The motive how ever was less was much more innocent.

The "victim" was being "kidnapped" by four friends to be brought to a surprise bachelor party. A local business owner saw 4 hooded men, no shirts, wearing stocking masks, force the "victim" into the van. He, correctly, called the police.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I made the mistake years ago of not reporting something my friend and I had witnessed. We didn't know what to make of it at the time. We were drive down a major road and had no way of contacting the police (it was before cell phones were common place).

The next day we found out a girl had been abducted not far from where we had been, at approximately at the same time. She was raped.

I'm still haunted by that twenty years later.

Jenny said...

Man, it's a confusing world sometimes. Truly. I usually err on the side of caution and call the police. You just never know. And being annoyed over calling on something that wasn't as it seemed would feel like nothing to me if I watched something bad happen and did nothing about it.

Thoughtful post.

Thank you!

Jenny said...

I just want to comment that I have had to force one of my daughters into a vehicle. It was horrendous. I was taking her to a de-tox lockdown. She was 13. People called the cops on us...the cops ended up helping me get her in the car.

Sometimes you have to do ridiculous things to try and save your child.

Bob G. said...

This is one of those situations where, at first glance,. you tend to think the worst.
My take would be to call the police anyway...better to "err" on the side of caution...ALWAYS.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I agree with everyone here--call the authorities and--don't judge completely until it gets sorted out. If this happened in a Wal-Mart near me I would definitely make the call.

Now I'd like to make a next point--tax dollars spent on these disputes--we need to pay our cities for services like this. Let your city council know your budget priorities!!!

Okay, enough soapbox--
Thanks for a thought-provoker,
Ann T.

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

This is crazy! I definitely would have called the police!

I agree with everyone above - if you have to truly FORCE the child physically - especially a TEEN then something is off at home.

Happy to hear it wasn't an abduction.

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Creepy Query Girl said...

I think that if there is the slightest sliver of doubt, than authorities should be brought in. Even if its a mistake, something like that shouldn't be allowed to happen with bystanders just sitting around doing nothing.

Herding Cats said...

Props to the woman that walks right past the incident without giving it a second thought. Way to go humanity!

Momma Fargo said...

Very eye opening post. Certainly, these things witnessed by the public only creates fear in everyone. For it to be UNREAL...is even a bigger waste of manpower, public concern, and needless fear. Ugh. People don't think sometimes. And then the public is never given the end results or an explanation because of confidentiality. Very frustrating.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Holy crap! I'd take my purse and start beating the $hi# out of them. That's insane...ugh, duh, call the cops!!! Thanks for sharing the video.

suzicate said...

It looks like an abduction to me. Love the comment by My Husband's Watching TV...yeah,my purse probably weighs ten pounds...would've put somebody out!

makingnew said...

How scary for the family - and people watching! When I was a nanny, the 6 yr old girl and I had some tough times leaving her favorite places, but nothing this bad!

Miss Caitlin S. said...

Weird, I would hope that people could be able to tell the difference between a tantrum and an abduction but then again, that looks like an abduction to me. Who knows, maybe it was just a really bad day for the family..?

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Obviously, the family is living in Dysfunction Junction, but you never know what kinds of problems the child might have, either. It could be something cognitive or emotional, which wouldn't necessarily come out in a news story.

I would have called the cops, too, however.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

JJ, with friends like THAT...!


WomanHonorThyself said...

thanks Slam for bring our eyes and ears..Hope u had a meaningful Memorial day weekend~!

Silver Strands said...

Getting the license plate # is really good advice. It could save a life.

And it never hurts to call the police - if it's nothing, there's really no harm done.

LadyFi said...

Wow - how difficult to have to force your teenager into a van with so much violence.

Who's to say if this was a good or bad thing without knowing all the facts...

Kimi said...

I'm going to be the devil's advocate and say the child might be someone who's behavior is incorrigable and does not yield to obedience easily. It's unfortunate the situation led the persons to act on the girl in that matter, but if she behaved accordingly, the incident wouldn't have escalated by use of force (some kids are unruly and don't always comply, so somtimes force is needed, not to harm but to demonstrate correction of behavior). However, I agree that if I'm a bystander and should see anything (ANYTHING!) that looks out of the ordinary (using common sense), call for help, if you have a phone dial 9-1-1 or contact the nearest police precinct if you know it. In an age filled with fear we have to be onguard always, and it also means looking out for others as well. We don't always know what caused certain situations, but we can step up and be alert and do something about it. I'd rather safety first and all lives are spared than a life lost in the end.

carma said...

I agree - better to act on the safe side than leave it to chance. Dose not sound like a happy home, either way.

Nathalie said...

Wow. this is amazing. I was so shocked seeing this scene and no one reacting. I mean there is this one woman just calmly walking by...???
It really looked like an attack and it is so strange that members of the family act like this... weird family situation for that poor girl, I would say

~*~Patty said...

we saw this on the evening news
as parents of three teenagers (now grown) all I can say is if the story is as told ... I sure do feel for the family, including the obviously unhappy kid ... not an easy time

I too would have reported it, as it certainly does not "look" right

Luisa Doraz said...

Well...this just validates some of my personal thoughts about people and life. Crazy. Have a fun day.

Lydia Kang said...

What a horrifying video, and then to find out it's the family!
Wow. The world we live in is a crazy place. I also can't believe that woman walked by without even looking surprised about all the action!

T. Anne said...

This is scary. Although I do have to say I have a scene in my book just like it.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Err on the side of caution. You don't want to be wrong and have someone suffer the consequences.

Suzanne said...

It was awful to watch, wondering if it was a true kidnapping. Either way, a person should notify the police.

There is definitely issues about the "move".