Yakima kidnapping suspect was driving around elementary schools before his arrest, police say

Warning: This article includes includes disturbing details of crimes against a young child

YAKIMA, Wash. — Investigators have identified several incidents over the past week where a Yakima man accused of kidnapping and molesting a 6-year-old girl was repeatedly circling his car around nearby elementary schools.

“I believe he is an extreme danger to the children and families of this community,” the arresting officer said in court documents.

Police arrested the 24-year-old man Wednesday evening, shortly after they received a call from the state crime lab that DNA samples taken in the kidnapping incident matched the suspect’s DNA profile.

“He has a prior criminal history, which is why his DNA was in the system,” Seely said.

Seely said the presumptive DNA match gave them enough probable cause to make the arrest, but officers had been following the man since they were able to identify him Wednesday.

RELATED: Yakima man in custody for accused kidnapping, molestation of a 6-year-old girl

While following the suspect, police officers reportedly witnessed him circling his car around Hoover Elementary School during the school day.

Investigators reviewed security footage from area schools and found the man had been circling Barge-Lincoln Elementary School just hours before he allegedly kidnapped the 6-year-old girl while she was walking down a nearby street.

Additionally, court documents show police had actually contacted the 24-year-old the day before the kidnapping, when someone called 911 to report a man had, “made a statement to a hotel that he was ‘looking for kids’ and specifically ‘a girl.'”

“My concern is yes, that he may have done this in the past,” Seely said. “We believe, in talking to my detectives, that there may be some other potential victims out there.”

Seely said a major concern in this case is that despite multiple witnesses seeing a 6-year-old girl wandering the streets alone — including two visits to a nearby store — no one called 911.

“If you see a small child walking around by themselves on the street, call the police,” Seely said. “We probably could have intervened before this even happened, had we known that.”

The 24-year-old man is being held in the Yakima County jail on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree child molestation. He made his first court appearance Thursday afternoon, where a Yakima County Superior Court judge set bail at $500,000.

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