MARIETTA, Ga. - A 51-year-old man has been accused of attempting to lure a 9-year-old boy from a Marietta Walmart after approaching him in a bathroom.
The attempted abduction happened Saturday afternoon at the 210 Cobb Parkway location, according to Marietta police. Michael Beltran is accused of telling the boy his mother left him at the store and the boy needed to leave with him. The boy wasn’t so easily persuaded, and police said Beltran grabbed him by the arm.
The 9-year-old broke free and ran out of the bathroom and into the store, where his mother was waiting for him, authorities said. She immediately called 911, and police arrived within four minutes.
Beltran, who was still inside the store, was located quickly, police spokesman Officer Jared Rakestraw said. The Marietta man was arrested on charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor simple battery.
While extremely rare, Rakestraw said the police department wants to remind the public that these types of incidents happen.
Less than 1 percent of the more than 25,000 missing children cases reported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2018 involved non-family abductions, according to police.
“In this particular case the child had been educated by his parent on what to do if/when approached by a stranger,” Rakestraw said in a news release. “Furthermore, the child was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect to his mother. As a result, Marietta officers were able to quickly locate and arrest the offender before he could attempt this crime again.”
The department is urging families to stay vigilant and educate children on child self-defense.
Beltran is being held without bond in the Cobb County jail. Marietta police are asking anyone who recognizes the man and may have had similar encounters with him to contact Detective Mark Erion at 770-794-5363.