A man who allegedly attempted to abduct a ten-year-old girl outside her school in Thornton, Colorado, was turned in by his parents after they recognized him in publicly released police images.
Thornton police identified Diego James Gettler, 28, as the suspect in connection with the case and charged him on Thursday with second-degree kidnapping.
While she was sitting on some steps nearby the school, a man approached her and asked if she was attending the school. The girl told investigators she felt “uncomfortable” after he had passed her walking up the steps but turned around.
She stood up as he made his way down the steps. The male suddenly “grabbed [her] at this point, in a manner she described as him wrapping his hands and arms around her waist from behind,” according to the affidavit.
The girl screamed, but he covered his hand around her mouth. She then started grabbing at the suspect and was able to pull his mask down, which “spooked” him and prompted him to flee the area.
After police responded and interviewed the girl, they released security camera footage the same day of the suspect wearing a ski mask.
Police released more images the following day of what they believed to be the suspect’s vehicle — a 2006 to 2009 gray Saturn Acura with damage to the driver’s side fender & door that would prevent someone from entering.
*UPDATE* Thornton PD continues to investigate the Att. Child Abduction at STEM Launch. Additional pics of the suspect & the vehicle he left in, an ‘06-‘09 Saturn Aura, gray, with damage to drivers side fender & door that likely prevent the door from opening. 1 of 2 pic.twitter.com/fxuPXCAIr8
— Thornton Police Dept (@ThorntonPolice) September 24, 2022
The suspect’s parents later recognized their son from the surveillance images released by police. They also recognized the vehicle’s unique characteristics from the description, noting their son had to enter from the passenger’s side of his car.
The parents then identified Gettler to the police, and he was arrested on September 26 outside a Home Depot in Parker.
Investigators also discovered that his cell phone was allegedly present in the area at the time of the attempted kidnapping.
Gettler’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 5, and he has not entered a plea, according to People.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.