GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Parents in the Bayou View Community of Gulfport are on high alert, after a reported attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl from her home.
"It's scary, you know. We usually ride our bikes through the neighborhood, and the kids can play outside. Now you've got to keep an extra eye on them," said Shana McInnis.
Parents agree, the days of letting their children play outside unsupervised are officially over.
"It's pretty safe, and it's kind of a shock to see that something happened like that right down the street in broad daylight," said Haley Normand.
Gulfport police say they were told by residents of a home on 43rd Street, that on Sunday afternoon, a man rang the doorbell and their 13-year-old daughter answered. When the girl opened the door, the family said the man tried to pull her outside, but she kicked him and he ran away.
"Right now it's just been filed as a complaint. We do not have any further information that's been developed from any of the neighbors or anyone else that's been close with the victim," said McDaniel.
Sgt. Damon McDaniel said the suspect was described as a white man between the ages of 25 and 35 years old with a reddish blonde beard. He was wearing a faded yellow ball cap and a purple shirt.
Police say there is no evidence to suggest this incident or the suspect described by the family are in any way related to the capital murder of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson, who was found dead in a trailer last week.
Despite that news, cheerleading coach Ashley Holtzclaw is taking precautions for her cheerleaders during their camp at Bayou View Middle School this week.
"We kept all the girls in the gym with the doors locked; we weren't letting anybody out without a parent right there," said Ashley Holtzclaw.
Holtzclaw and her husband also live in the area, and say the incident is another reason to talk with their children about stranger danger.
"We just tell them that not everybody is sweet or kind like mom and dad and grandpa and grandma. There are people out there that do mean things and bad things," said Kevin Holtzclaw.
A community meeting is being held Tuesday night for residents to discuss this incident. If you have any information that would be helpful in this case, please call the Gulfport Police Department at (228) 868-5959.