PARRISH, Fla. – Authorities are focusing today on finding the gunman who abducted a 13-year-old Florida boy while he waited at a school bus stop Friday.
Officials say Clay Moore was kidnapped shortly before 9am Friday morning as he stood in the street with about a dozen children.
Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells says the boy was bound and taken directly to a thickly wooded rural area about 20 miles away.
After being left alone, Clay managed to free himself and walk until he found a farm worker with a cell phone. He called his mother at about 1:30pm.
"He was bound, he was able to get free," Wells said. "It was miraculous, to tell you the truth."
Wells says the boy wasn't hurt except for scratches and scrapes. He says the abduction appeared to be random, and the focus now is on capturing whoever committed the crime.
Authorities were investigating reports that a similar truck had followed other children in the area recently, he added.
"It's a happy ending," Wells said. "(The parents) are relieved, and we are too."
Clay's uncle, Gregory Moore, said the family was "overjoyed."
"We all said all along that if there was a way out, Clay would find it," Moore said. "He's an ingenious, smart little guy. It didn't surprise me."
Parrish, about 30 miles southeast of St. Petersburg, has seen explosive growth in recent years but still has many rural areas. The bus stop where the abduction occurred was at the entrance to a subdivision of relatively new homes off a rural road in eastern Manatee County.
Margi Nanney, spokeswoman for the county school district, said this is the first time anyone can remember that a student has been taken off the street here.
"I can tell you as a parent you put them in the hands of the Lord when they walk out the door," she said. "And you know most people are good people. You like to think that we don't have a lot of people out there like the one who took this child."