MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Police are searching for an unidentified man accused of trying to lure two Henderson Elementary School students into his vehicle one block from campus, officials said.
The 8- and 10-year-old siblings told officers they were walking to school when the suspect drove up to them around 9 a.m. in the 4600 block of Graceland Drive and told them to get in his SUV.
"The kids ran westbound on Graceland and hid inside a bush at a residence," a press release from Midland Police stated. "The older brother said they waited for the actor vehicle to drive past them, then ran back to their residence to tell their mom what had happened."
Investigators described the suspect as a "Hispanic male wearing a baseball cap, dark-colored polo and slack-style pants." His vehicle is reportedly a dark blue or black Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban with an orange license plate. The SUV is believed to be a newer model, police said, introduced between 2007 and 2014.
Dr. Ryder Warren, superintendent of the Midland Independent School District, said the incident "angered" him. However, the children's reaction filled him with pride.
"The kids handled it awesomely," he told NewsWest 9. "They handled it with excellence. They ran away [and] they hid in bushes around the neighborhood. When all was clear, they ran back home, told parents and parents told police... I'm very proud of them."
Warren urged parents and teachers to turn the incident into a learning opportunity.
"The crux of this is that we're going to partner with families... parents [and] caregivers and do our best to really share information with our children about keeping themselves safe," he said.
Henderson third grader Miranda Montes said teachers spent much of Thursday reviewing safety tips with students.
"We also practice at home," the 8-year-old told NewsWest 9. "We're practicing every day. My mom [will come and ask] if I want candy or something. And we scream, 'Stranger danger!'"
Montes said the "almost kidnapping" left her too shaken to walk home from school.
"I was scared, so my grandma came to pick us up," she said.
District administrators said letters detailing the incident were sent home Thursday afternoon with all MISD students. Press releases were circulated among staff, the superintendent said.
Police confirmed officers will patrol the Henderson campus before and after school hours on Friday.