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Police: Girl, 14, escapes stranger

The man came from behind and grabbed her by the neck, the 14-year-old girl told detectives Friday.

The girl, whose identity was withheld, was alone as she walked south on Belcher Road toward Oak Grove Middle School about 8:15 a.m., police spokesman Wayne Shelor said. At Lakeview Road, Shelor said, a man grabbed the girl.

She pulled away and ran to the school, 1370 S Belcher Road, about a fifth of a mile away, Shelor said. The girl told a friend and then reported the attempted abduction to school administrators, who called police about 8:30.

Patrol officers and detectives responded, interviewed the girl and her mother and searched the neighborhood.

Investigators were also checking sexual offenders and predators living near the school, to see whether any matched the description the girl gave authorities. State records show 18 sex offenders are known to live within a mile radius of the school.

By afternoon, police had no suspects, Shelor said.

"We're taking her situation very seriously," he added.

Patrols were increased around the school and nearby Plum Elementary at 1920 Lakeview Road. School officials, meanwhile, issued a reminder to students to be cautious walking to and from school and notified parents of the incident.

The suspect was described as a white man with short blond hair, 5 feet 10, wearing a dark shirt with writing on it. He was believed to be driving a black, older-model pickup with tinted windows and spots of primer paint.

Police know of no similar recent cases in Clearwater.

Jacob H. Fries can be reached at 445-4156 or jfries@sptimes.com.

TO HELP

Anyone with information about the attempted abduction near Oak Grove Middle School is asked to contact Clearwater police at (727) 562-4080.

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