Police in Burlington, Vermont, continue investigating a report of an attempted robbery targeting a 13-year-old boy.
“It was horrifying for my son,” the child’s mother told necn. “It was very traumatic.”
The mom asked not to be identified to protect the privacy of her son, who she said is still disturbed by what he told police happened to him last Thursday, April 27.
The teen said he was heading home around 5:30 p.m. on Burlington’s popular bike path. The boy reported a man he did not know flagged him down and asked him for help near an overpass between North Beach and Leddy Park.
The man really wanted the 13-year-old’s wallet and bicycle, the student told his mother and police.
The teen escaped, but told his mom and police that the stranger slashed him in the face and shoulder with a small pocketknife.
The child’s mother said she’s grateful those wounds were only superficial.
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“He was concerned that someone else might be hurt, and he wanted people to be aware,” the woman said, adding that she spread the word among neighbors using an online community messaging forum.
Burlington police are now asking folks who use the busy bike path to come forward if they’ve seen anything suspicious or if anyone also tried to approach them.
According to police investigators, there were no other reports of trouble on the bike path on the evening of April 27.
Detectives planned to return to the scene of the reported incident Thursday evening to ask users of the bike path if they remembered seeing anything unusual a week prior, or if anyone also tried to approach them.
Police have interviewed the 13-year-old, and his mother said they’ve examined his t-shirt—which she said has a cut in it from the knife blade.
“Any act like this is of great concern, but when it involves a juvenile, that's really shocking to us,” said Deputy Chief Shawn Burke of the Burlington Police Department. “And you begin to ponder, ‘What are the true motivations of the offender in this case?’ Was it just simply a crime of opportunity, or was that this particular offender's appetite?”
Crimes on the bike path are rare, Burlington Police said, especially given its number of users.
“I'm very surprised to hear that that happened here,” said Elaine Wang, who was walking on part of the bike path near the Burlington Waterfront Thursday. “It's generally a pretty calm and safe area.”
Investigators said they’re looking for someone white, about 5’7”, in his mid-to-late 20s, who was last seen in a black sweatshirt and navy blue sweatpants.
Police said even a small bit of information could prove helpful in tracking the subject down, so they’re asking bike path users to search their memories and come forward with tips.
Anyone with info can contact Officer Darren Kennedy at 802-540-2342, police said.