VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) -- A Vernon neighborhood is shaken after the attempted kidnapping of a 5-year-old boy.
Police say the suspect grabbed the boy and tried to carry him away, and he may have gotten away with it if it weren't for a teenager and a good Samaritan who intervened.
It was a picture perfect Fall day at the park in Vernon, but Thursday night no one was playing on the playground; their safety has been shattered by an attempted kidnapping.
"That poor kid, I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been for him," said Christine Shultz, of Vernon. "I'm so glad that 15-year-old boy was there to help."
Police have arrested 49-year-old John Harker and charged him with attempted kidnapping and risk of injury to a minor, among other charges. Police say he tried to grab a 5-year-old boy off the playscape at Talcott Park.
"He was trying to make repeated conversations with the 5-year-old boy, trying to get him to come over onto the swing set and sit next to him," said Lt. Jim Grady, Vernon PD.
Police say Harker was swinging on the playground and the five and 15-year-old were over on the playscape. He allegedly tried to lure the 5-year-old over to swing with him, when the boy refused Harker reached out and grabbed him. The 15-year-old fought back and the 5-year-old was caught in the middle of a tug of war.
"At that point the boy became terrified and started crying, and some citizens intervened and said 'hey, let go of him,' and the boy and the 15-year-old ran home," said Lt. Grady.
Police say it didn't end there. Harker followed the boys out of the park, and who knows what would have happened if the good Samaritan hadn't interfered. Meanwhile, people in the neighborhood have seen Harker around. They say he is homeless and eats at a nearby soup kitchen.
"Right now he looks kind of wild and crazy because he just got out of jail, and the other thing is he has been drinking," said Dan Daigle, of Vernon. "When he is drunk he is very violent."
"How bad" asked News 8's Bob Wilson.
"Very bad, you wouldn't want to be around him," replied Daigle.
Police say Harker was drunk driving during the incident and has a long criminal record that covers two states. He is a convicted felon with violence spanning from Connecticut to New Jersey.
"So what do you make of him trying to carry away a 5-year-old kid," asked Wilson.
"I know one thing; he is a father, he has a child and the reason he did that is beyond me," Daigle said.
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