Harriman police work to clear confusion about child abductions

Harriman police work to clear confusion about child abduction concerns

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Police say the man who flashed the child at the Kroger in Harriman was a white male between 5-foot-7 to 6-feet tall weighting 200 to 240 pounds. Police says he has long greasy dark hair and was between 30 to 45 years old. (source: Harriman Police Dept.) Police say the man who flashed the child at the Kroger in Harriman was a white male between 5-foot-7 to 6-feet tall weighting 200 to 240 pounds. Police says he has long greasy dark hair and was between 30 to 45 years old. (source: Harriman Police Dept.)
He was driving a 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR with tinted windows. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Schneider at the Harriman Police Department 865-882-3383. (source: Harriman Police Dept.) He was driving a 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR with tinted windows. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Schneider at the Harriman Police Department 865-882-3383. (source: Harriman Police Dept.)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

HARRIMAN (WATE) - Police in Harriman want to clear up confusion after a report that a man exposed himself to a child at a grocery store led to worried parents taking to Facebook posting claims about attempted abductions.

6 News received several emails and Facebook posts from community members about possible abduction attempts in Harriman. We took those concerns to the Harriman police chief who says some social media messages being shared are inaccurate, causing unnecessary panic in the community.

Melissa Ray says in November, a man pulled up next to her vehicle at a stop light in Harriman, got out of his SUV and tried to open the back door of her car where her granddaughter was sitting.

"It shook me up. It really shook me up and made me more aware of my surroundings and the things that go on around me every day now," said Ray.

When the man couldn't open the door, he got in his vehicle, turned around and fled. She told police and some friends about it.

Then on Tuesday, when a man flashed an 11-year-old girl at Kroger, the stories were shared multiple times on Facebook.

The community became concerned about a man trying to abduct children and contacted 6 News. We called Harriman Police Chief Randy Heidle to get more information.

"On social media, there have been rumors that we've had three or four incidents like that. We have no records of that, but if there is an incident that did occur contact us," said Chief Heidle.

Ray says the story of what happened to her changed as it spread it on Facebook.

"Words get changed as they go from one person to another, and I think what people need to do is keep the stories in context with what's really happened and not try to blow it out of proportion and incite panic," said Ray.

Chief Heidle appreciates the community's involvement on social media, but wants accurate information to be spread. He says officers are searching for the man who flashed the 11-year-old at Kroger.

Ray has confidence police take all reports seriously.

"I don't think that this police department up here would take any of that lightly especially regarding a child," said Ray.

Police say the man who flashed the child at the Kroger in Harriman was a white male between 5-foot-7 to 6-feet tall weighting 200 to 240 pounds. Police says he has long greasy dark hair and was between 30 to 45 years old.

He was driving a 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR with tinted windows. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Schneider at the Harriman Police Department 865-882-3383.

Ray says a report was made and police are also searching for the man in the cherry red Blazer who tried to get into her car.

If you have any information Harriman police are asking you to call the department's crime tip line at (865) 590-9010.

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