Mom and Guard Foil Attempted Emeryville Child Kidnapping
By Brian Shields
A 19-year old with a history of mental problems is in jail after allegedly trying to kidnap a seven-year old girl.
The victim and her mother were leaving a Starbucks at the Powell Street Plaza Monday evening when witnesses say 19-year old Gabriel Weathersbee tried to abduct the child.
“A stranger had just grabbed her seven-year old girl and was carrying the child off.” Emeryville police Sgt. Fred Dauer said. “The victim and her daughter did not know the suspect before this incident. The mother followed and was yelling to get her daughter back. She was able to get her daughter back from the suspect and he tried to flee the area on foot.”
Investigators say a quick thinking security guard followed Weathersbee and pointed him out to police. Investigators say after talking with the suspect and witnesses they learned he had allegedly made previous threats to sexually assault children.
Police say Weathersbee may suffer from mental illness. He has been the subject of at least one previous psychiatric hold after another incident involving Emeryville police.
The child in this case was not hurt.
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Reposted from this Nixle Alert Issued by the Emeryville Police Department:
Emeryville Police received a 911 call on February 3 in the early evening of a possible kidnapping of a 7-year-old girl. The mother and her 7-year-old daughter had just left Starbucks Coffee in the Powell Street Plaza when the suspect, Gabriel Weathersbee had walked up behind the 7-year-old, picked her up and carried her away. The mother screamed when Weathersbee finally let the 7-year-old go. A nearby security guard followed Weathersbee. Police arrived within minutes and the security guard pointed out Weathersbee. Police arrested Weathersbee and witnesses positively identified him as the kidnapper.
Emeryville Police had previous contact with Weathersbee in November and he was sent to John George for a psychiatric hold. Weathersbee is a 20-year-old male black who resides in the Emeryville Marina. Anyone with any information about Gabriel Weathersbee should contact Detective Goodfellow at 596-3733.
Due to the fast response by Police and the security guard, police were able to stop this kidnapping. As a reminder, please keep your children safe. Always keep your children nearby, never leave them alone and most of all be aware of your surroundings.
For more information, please contact Public Information Officer Sergeant Fred Dauer at (510) 406-9640 after 12:30 pm who will be following up as to obtaining more information on Weathersbee.
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Good show EPD! Hats off to the security guard’s eagle eye and persistence!
My heart goes out to the victims of this frightening incident.
Let’s hope that Mr. Weathersbee gets the psychological help he needs before anyone else suffers from his illness.
The presentation of this story is problematic on multiple levels.
First off, the episode you describe is the *least* common form of kidnapping–the overwhelming majority of episodes involve people (such as relatives) who already know the child. The fear-mongering message that parents should be on constant guard against (and almost expect) a kidnapping flies in the face of the facts and deeply corrodes the trust needed to build community.
Second, the suspect was swiftly in custody and clearly has a history of mental illness–so why the “if anyone has information about…” verbiage suggesting that he’s still at large and still a danger?
Third, language like “20-year-old male black” is both unnecessary and disrespectful, at the very least. And evilleeye should do some self-education about disproportionate use of person-of-color mug shots in the media. (full disclosure: I’m a white guy).
Fourth: if the language framing the incident thusly comes from the EPD, the Department would benefit from some self-examination of its communication methods…AND evilleeye MUST revisit the criteria it uses in deciding which stories to publish…since the editorial policy does not appear to be a knee-jerk dispersal of *every* word released by EPD.
I’ll agree with some of this Joe. My biggest mistake was not framing this as a community alert issued by the EPD. I fixed this and will learn from this. Thanks!
Thanks for responding and taking the concerns seriously. I know the blog is a part-time passion (and a resource I value & enjoy). Seeing now that the wording comes straight from EPD, do you have the bandwidth to screen & edit EPD/nixie alerts that contain language like this? Thanks again–especially for the social capital you build here.
I’ll do my best on this. EPD is pretty stingy with the Nixle alerts so I would’t expect too much of this. Had I more time, I would have tried to put this in my own voice and been a bit more objective.