Austin police investigating suspicious encounter at a youth baseball practice

An 8-year-old boy was approached by a suspicious person at a Central Austin Youth League baseball practice. (Photo: Bettie Cross)

What started as a routine night of baseball practice turned into a scary lesson about stranger danger for one Austin family.

An 8-year-old boy was approached by a suspicious man at the Central Austin Youth League (CAYL) baseball fields located on Riverview Street in East Austin. Monday night the 911 call came in as an attempted kidnapping, but after an investigation police are now calling it a suspicious person case. What's troubling for parents is that the story the 8-year-old is telling could have had a much worse ending.

The East Austin baseball field is usually safe and family friendly. Bright stadium lights reveal plenty of parents keeping a watchful eye on the game and their kids. But Monday night the boy says he was approached by a stranger riding a red bike.

“When he rode up he was like looking at me when he rode up,” said Andrew Sosa.

Andrew wasn't close to all the infield action. Instead, he was farther away standing along the fence line when the man started talking to him. “I got like scared, so I started backing up just a little bit,” said Andrew. “And then really quietly he said do you want to come with me? And then I just ran off.”

Andrew is fine, but last year in Austin there were 13 attempted kidnappings and so far this year there have been eight.

“It was bold, yes,” said Officer Marie Bynum with the Austin Police Department.

Officer Bynum says the situation could have quickly escalated even though the area was well lit and filled with families. “Any person that they would want to harm, they would do it in any area,” said Officer Bynum.

A child’s best protection against stranger-danger is running away, screaming or causing a scene. “It’s just that instinct that you feel uncomfortable and if you feel uncomfortable then it’s a suspicious person,” said Officer Bynum.

All it took for this 8-year-old to hit it out of the park was to trust his instincts and act on them. “I just ran away,” said Andrew.

Andrew describes the man who approached him at the baseball field Monday night as a Hispanic man with a mustache and long hair. He was wearing a blue suit with a white button-up shirt and had a black satchel or backpack on the back of a red bicycle.

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