Police investigate attempted child abduction in Oak Park

Oak Park police are searching for a man who tried to abduct a child Monday morning in a park in the western suburb.

Officers responded about 10:30 a.m. to a call of a suspicious person at Fox Park, near South Oak Park Avenue and Jackson Boulevard, according to a statement from Oak Park police.

Witnesses told officers that a man was walking by the park, speaking to himself in an unidentified foreign language, when he called over to two children in the playground area, police said. When he called out to the children, he spoke in English with a foreign accent.

The children walked over to the man, who then knelt down, reached through the fence and gave a high-five to one of the children, police said. He then stood up, reached over the fence, picked up the other child and turned as if to walk away.

The child’s caretaker and other witnesses confronted the man and he put the child down, police said. He was last seen walking away southbound on Oak Park Avenue.

"It was a real concern. A lot of kids that play in the neighborhood and just to hear that someone was trying to do something here, it's a real scary thought," said parent Art Stenhouse.

Megan Galeener is a mother.

"It makes us nervous. I must say though I feel like it really shows how Oak Park is a community and we make a village because it was reported that someone else got the child back, and that makes me feel, I'm tearing up actually, it makes me feel really safe like we chose the right community to live in," she said.

At a nearby baseball park, parents watched their kids play T-ball. People consider Oak Park a safe community, which made the attempted abduction that much more disturbing for adults and children.

"I used to go to this park when I was younger and it just doesn't seem right for a kid to get taken away because they were just trying to have a fun time at the park, and they just didn't deserve it," said 10-year-old Nyla Stenhouse.

People, though, are grateful that nothing happened and that police responded quickly.

"They notified us immediately and the kids seem pretty safe, so I don't have any big issues about it. They said they're on top of it now," said father Hansel Law.

The suspect is described as a black man, between 25 and 35 years old, standing between 5-feet-10 and 5-feet-11 with a stocky build, round face, dark eyes, a dark complexion and may have had a mustache and bushy sideburns, police said. He was wearing a black hat, a black long-sleeved shirt, black pants, black fingerless gloves and possibly a black jacket or sweater tied around his waist.

Anyone with information on the attempted child abduction is asked to contact Oak Park police at (708) 386-3800.