On Friday (2/23/07) morning in Parrish, Florida’s Kingsfield Lakes subdivision, in southwest Florida’s Manatee County, the students of the Manatee School for the Arts were just getting to their bus stop and, as he usually was, 13-year old Clay Moore was zooming around on his skateboard to kill time until the bus arrived. It was a normal, beautiful morning but then it turned bad.
A red extended cab pickup pulled up alongside Clay, a man with a gun got out, forced Clay into the pickup and, amidst the screams and shouts of Clay’s schoolmates, he drove away with their friend. The man drove Clay directly to a wooded area where he used duct tape to tie Clay hand and foot to a tree and shoved a sock in his mouth to prevent him from calling for help — he then just drove away, leaving Clay bound and gagged. As far as we know at this stage there was very little conversation between the man and Clay and the man’s intentions can only be guessed at (your most vile guess, however, is probably your best guess).
Fortunately, Clay had a safety pin attached to his shirt sleeve; he managed to get the pin open and use it to tear the duct tape — in a short time he was free and running for help. Thanks to a farmer in a field on his tractor and the farmer’s willingness to let Clay use his cell phone to call home, the police who were at Clay’s home talking to his parents were soon on their way to pick him up.
We are left once again to ask ourselves: what sort of madness has invaded our society and what is it doing to us? An abduction in front of witnesses by a man who makes no attempt to cover his face, hide his gun or otherwise mask his intentions either tells a tale of extreme arrogance or extreme desperation driven by some force we (if we are lucky) will never understand firsthand.
Clay is home now but another American community has changed permanently. Kids in Manatee County and well beyond will no longer be free to go ‘wherever’ and do ‘whatever’ or generally enjoy life as a kid should be able to enjoy life. Their parent’s fears and, indeed, their own fears of what might happen to them if they meet some “stranger” has a far greater effect on them than they may now realize. Many opportunities to meet many wonderful people will be lost; curiosity, which is natural in every child, will be dampened by caution and, as a result, knowledge will be lost; trust and openness will be concepts that become more and more foreign every day until no ‘new face’ will be welcome in the community.
One unstable individual, interrupting the normal flow of life on one sunny morning in southwestern Florida, can do (and has done) all that.
HeraldTribune.Com: Boy escapes bonds; gunman sought
Bradenton Herald: Wait agonizing for missing boy’s family
From the blogosphere:
Bonnie’s Blog of Crime: Amber Alert: Clay Moore found; suspect still at large
Giggidy: Missing Children on CNN