By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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SEQUIM — At least two unidentified adults staged the kidnapping of their young child and filmed it over the weekend, terrifying onlookers as they snatched the boy from Carrie Blake Park and sped off in a van.
It was all reportedly to raise “kidnapping awareness.”
A couple called the Sequim Police Department minutes before the incident to say they were going to fake their child's abduction to make a video on “kidnapping awareness for parents to watch” and post it on the Internet site YouTube, Police Sgt. Dave Campbell said in a report.
The perpetrators of the fake abduction have not been arrested because no “identifiable crime” was committed, Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson said Monday, adding that police continue to investigate.
He did not have the names of the alleged perpetrators.
“The actors [later] advised officers this was not a wise move, and that they were fortunate there was not an armed off-duty officer or an armed citizen who misinterpreted what they were doing,” Dickinson said.
Here is the video: https://www.facebook.com/jason.holden.581?fref=ts
Eyewitness Tiffany Barnett of Sequim said adults were talking among themselves and watching children in a park play area at roughly 5:30 p.m. Saturday when a silver minivan pulled up with two men inside.
One, wearing what looked like a Halloween mask, jumped out, scooped up a 3- or 4-year-old boy and ran back into the van, which sped off.
Police said it was the boy's father.
Barnett left her 7-year-old girl with her friend, Rebekah Asin of Sequim, and chased the van for about a block in an unsuccessful attempt to get the license plate number.
“I was shaking and bawling when I was running, and then I felt like a failure for not getting the information,” Barnett said.
Learning the incident was staged “was like a big slap in the face,” she added.
Barnett said a woman who identified herself as the “abducted” boy's mother later told her “this was a research report to see how the public would react.”
The mother may have left the boy in the care of another adult while she left to supposedly use the restroom when the child was abducted and might have shot a video of it, Barnett said.
After the child was snatched, the involved adults returned to the park to let terrified onlookers and children know that the young boy was safe.
The people involved in the fake abduction appeared to be in their mid-20s, Barnett said.
She said a video on the Facebook page of Jason Holden of Port Angeles depicted events surrounding the incident.
A man in the video is seen putting on a mask while driving a van before the child was snatched.
A person who appears to be an adult is in the backseat, also masked.
“I could have been killed and didn't even realize lol [laughing out loud],” Jesse Holden comments on the positing.
“Just goes to show all involved how easy it would be to snatch up a little blonde-haired boy from the park. Kidnapping awareness: I'd die for the cause.”
Jason Holden, whose profile picture depicts a man whose hands are tied up and mouth is taped over while lying in an open car trunk, posted the following with the video:
“Not gonna lie things got wild on this one, we may have gone a little overboard!”
Phone numbers were unavailable Monday for Jason and Jesse Holden, and messages left on their Facebook pages did not immediately receive a response.
Barnett said she recognized in the video a woman yelling “This is outrageous!” at the perpetrators when they returned to the park.
By that point, frightened children were calling their parents to come and pick them up, while several adults among the 20 at the park were livid and panicked.
“They were all screaming at them . . . and [saying], 'You don't do that to people's kids. How would you like it if someone's kids got taken right next to yours?' ” Barnett said.
Campbell said officers arrived at the park while onlookers were yelling at the would-be kidnappers.
“The group was in agreement that it was a dumb move by the actors,” Campbell said in the report, “particularly the part where the father/suspect wore a ski mask as he 'took' the child from the playground.”
The adults agreed what they did was wrong, “apologized and looked genuinely shamed,” Campbell said.
Asin said the two parents and one other adult “did not really say anything” when they were being yelled at, recalling that one girl was saying, 'What if they take me?' ”
Another girl who was about 11 years old was frantically phoning her father, insisting that he pick her up.
“She was so scared because she was there with her little brother,” Asin said.
Asin said her 5-year-old boy was scared to go back to the park.
“I don't think a child should have to be afraid of going to his favorite park,” she added.
Barnett was fuming about the incident Monday morning.
“It scared the crap out of our kids,” she said.
“Now [the actors] are hiding behind kidnapping awareness.
“It just makes me angry.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.