Editor's note: A reader suggested that Albany Patch readers would appreciate knowing about this article, which appeared this past week on Berkeley Patch.
Berkeley police are continuing to investigate the attempted abduction of two sixth-grade girls near King Middle School last week, according to Officer Jennifer Coats, public information officer for the Berkeley Police Department.
An email from Janet Levenson, principal of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, described the incident this way:
"Yesterday [Thursday, May 2] at 3:00pm two 6th grade girls were waiting to be picked up at Berryman and Josephine. A man approached them saying that his keys had fallen into his car and his hand was too big to retrieve them. He pointed to the car which had the door open and was a couple of cars up the street. One girl started to go help him but her friend realized the potential danger and convinced her that they should run into the garden for help. The mom arrived almost immediately but the man was no longer there.
"He was described as a white male, 5'10", thin build, brown hair and eyes, and driving a silver 4 door vehicle with no trunk (possibly a small SUV)."
Levenson's email initially went out to parents of King students on Friday morning and was later forwarded to all Berkeley public school principals for distribution to parents and staff.
The corner of Josephine and Berryman streets is near the rear of the middle school, which is at 1781 Rose St., Berkeley. Some news reports said parents use that corner as an alternative to the official drop-off / pick-up zone on Rose.
One Berkeley Unified School District official said police have apparently ruled out any connection to two recent attemtps to abduct female students near Oakland Technical High School because the descriptions of the suspects are very dissimilar.
Another BUSD official, Co-Superintendent Neil Smith, said, "We have shared the alert about the attempted abduction reported outside of King Middle School last week with all of our principals, who are sharing it with their communities so that everyone is aware and alert.
"BPD has always paid close attention to our schools in their regular routine; a commitment that Chief Meehan reiterated to the media following the incident in Connecticut, and we are confident that they are making every effort to keep our students safe while they investigate this incident.
"We take any threat to student safety very seriously, as does our entire community. While we don't want anyone to over react, or to challenge any potentially dangerous persons; there are a lot of eyes on the lookout for anything suspicious, ready to report to authorities so that this individual can be apprehended or discouraged."
Anyone with information about the Berkeley abduction attempt is asked to contact the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5900.