A potentially dangerous situation for one 13-year-old girl was averted and a man is now behind bars following a day-long investigation by Village of Fredonia Police.
Around 7:30 a.m Thursday, the victim was traveling on her bicycle down Central Avenue to school. At that time, a male subject later identified as Corey Kimmy, 22, of Brocton allegedly grabbed her off the bike and held her to the ground.
"She managed to escape the individual who grabbed her and she ran to a nearby dwelling which happened to be the household of a Chautauqua County Sheriff's Deputy, to seek assistance," Fredonia Chief of Police Brad Meyers stated during a press conference just before 7 p.m. Thursday evening. "The individual responsible fled the scene on a side street and patrol began to search the area for the individual."
According to Meyers, Kimmy had parked his vehicle and left it running on Newton Street during the incident. Recalling the image of a man running to the suspicious vehicle that morning, a Newton Street resident notified police and essentially helped lead officials to his capture later that day.
"A press release went out, we notified the school districts and consequently as a result of the noon news (WDOE) on the local radio station, an individual heard the story, called us and said at that same timeframe he had witnessed an individual running to a car with the door open, no muffler on the car, and it drew his attention and he gave a very good description of the vehicle and described it as basically fleeing the scene," Meyers said. "Really, the witness here is a hometown hero in this thing. If all the pieces don't come together on this, if the press release isn't out and if it's not broadcast or newsworthy, and then if that individual isn't listening, and then if that individual isn't willing to get involved and make that phone call to the local police we don't make this arrest today."
Once received, the description of the vehicle was handed out to the road patrol and at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon Officer Joe Scholeno observed the described vehicle traveling on Main Street, made a U-turn, and pulled the vehicle over.
"The vehicle traffic stop was made by the American Legion on Route 20. It was incidental," Meyers said of why the suspect was still traveling in the area. "It wasn't as you may be trying to suspect, it wasn't to cultivate another victim or anything of that nature, it was really incidental to his traveling back and forth to his home."
Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley said they were preparing felony accusatory instrument charging, a charge of second-degree attempted kidnapping which is a class-C violent felony.
"We are going to make a search warrant application for the automobile to see if there is anything we can ascertain from the search with that. We still have some leg work to do," Foley said. "This is a very dangerous situation. We don't want an individual like this at large. It's a frightening situation and I want to commend the Fredonia Police Department for putting it together and taking him off the street."
Kimmy was arraigned late Thursday evening by Fredonia Justice David Prince. Bail was set at $250,000 cash/$500,000 property bond and he is expected to return to village court on Tuesday. The quick investigation and end result would never have been possible, however, if not for the strength of the 13-year-old victim.
"I think she handled it appropriately. She made a lot of noise, she fought off the attack, enough so that it would appear as though he abandoned his attempt. She deserves a lot of credit for what she did," Foley said. "I think it goes to a lesson for all parents out there, including myself, which is this can happen anywhere, it can happen anyplace, you never know when individuals like this are going to strike. The best advice I can provide is have your kids travel in groups; if they're riding to school try to make sure they're going together. I think that substantially reduces motive and opportunity for these people to try and strike."
Just before noon, after hearing of the event, the Fredonia Central School District used its Global Connect System to notify parents of the early morning situation. Parents and the district staff were also notified via e-mail of the incident, and bus drivers at First Student were also made aware of the incident so that they could be very alert as to any kind of situation that might arise when dropping students off later that day. The SUNY Fredonia campus also sent out a notice to its staff about the situation.
"We're very proud that this young lady took the appropriate actions. She made the right decisions, she made sure her attacker was aware that she was going to fight and she did what she needed to do to get away," Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said of the young victim. "She did everything right and we try to enforce those actions every day in our students how to deal with strangers, what to do to be polite but to be on guard, and to do whatever you have to do to get away from that situation and that's exactly what that young lady did."
The advice given by Foley is the same that the Fredonia Central School District has promoted for the families of its students.
"We told all of our students who walk or ride bikes to use the buddy system to get home, and if they're not comfortable to take their regular bus home rather than walk or ride their bike," DiFonzo said.
The traumatic experience aside, the young victim is only suffering from some minor bruises as a result of the incident, according to Meyers.
When asked, Foley said they have no reason to believe the suspect was on drugs at the time of the incident, and that he has no prior relationship or knowledge of the victim. An explanation of the suspect's motive was not given due to the fact that the investigation was still ongoing.
Foley wished to add onto the praise given by Chief Meyers for the homeowner on Newton Street who helped lead officials to the arrest.
"He certainly deserves an awful lot of credit. And it goes back to community involvement," Foley said. "If you're aware of a crime, if you witness a crime, even if you think you've witnessed something that may be suspect report it because it only helps the police put the cases together and helps us establish a charge, so he certainly deserves a lot of credit as well for coming forward and making the call. If he had not we potentially would have never found this individual."
"The witness realized that what he had observed earlier in the day was very important, and contacted the police department. Our hats off to him," Meyers added. "And I think a young lady, and an entire community, is going to sleep more soundly as by-product of that individual's willingness to step up to the plate, get involved, and subsequently lead to the arrest of a felon."
To view the entire press conference, please visit www.observertoday.com
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