GASTON COUNTY, N.C. -- Police say they have promising leads in one of two attacks on children over the weekend in Gaston County.
At last check, the suspects have not been arrested.
The first happened Saturday at McDonald Park in McAdenville. Police say a man tried to grab a 10-year-old boy and pull him into a wooded area while hundreds of people were around watching youth football games.
Football league organizers say they are changing game and practice procedures, which include making sure kids don't walk by themselves, plus leaving the field lights on longer.
The second happened Sunday afternoon at Martha Rivers Park in Gastonia. Police say a man assaulted and fondled a 14-year-old girl who was walking on the park path near the woods. They are working some leads and interviewing witnesses again. Police say it appears the man did not attempt to take the girl somewhere. She was not injured. Potential charges could include assault, as well as felony fondling, according to the incident report.
"It's a beautiful park," said neighbor Janet Areizaga. She walks her dog there daily.
"I still feel like it's safe," said neighbor Clifford Bradley, who walks the park path with his wife on a regular basis.
Bradley says Sunday afternoon's attack on a 14-year-old girl is disturbing.
Police say a man assaulted and fondled the teen as she walked along the path behind her brother and a friend. Police don't know if the man ran up to her, or waited in the woods.
"She tried to get away, he took her down, she screamed," said Sgt. Jimmy Arndt with the Gastonia Police Department.
The brother heard those screams and ran back to help, passing the suspect along the way, who then ran into a nearby neighborhood.
It's in that neighborhood where parents say they're keeping a closer eye on their kids, especially around Halloween when kids walk these streets trick or treating, and don't want them on the park path.
Police urge everyone to walk with someone else, or in groups.
"To be in a group or near a group of people, so you can be around other people if anything did happen," Arndt said.
"We're just going to do the same. I'm not going to stop because of that happening," Bradley said.
Areizaga isn't changing her habits because she doesn't want to live in fear.
Adults targeting kids is a parent's worst nightmare.
"Very, very disturbing," Areizaga said.
Neighbors say that’s especially true because of two different people apparently responsible for the same crime on two different days, at two different parks.
"Sick, disturbed, that's about all you can say," Bradley said.
Police think two different people are responsible because their descriptions are different.
Police say the man who tried to abduct the 10 year old is a white male, 30 to 40 years old and about 200 pounds. He has short reddish brown hair and a beard, possibly wearing khaki shorts and left in a older model blue Honda Civic or Accord.
Police describe the man who attacked the 14 year old as a short, heavyset man, possibly Hispanic, who may have driven away in a black pickup truck.
Anyone with information about either incident is asked to call Gaston County Crime Stoppers at (704) 861-8000.