Suffolk County Police arrested a 46-year-old man on Thursday who allegedly impersonated a police officer and then abducted two teenagers on Wednesday, according to authorities.
Donald Cristiano Jr., of Bay Shore, Long Island, was charged with two counts of kidnapping in the second degree, two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, one count of Criminal Impersonation in the first degree and one count of Luring a Child, according to a press statement obtained by the Daily Caller.
At approximately 3:35 Wednesday afternoon, two girls, ages 14 and 16, were walking down Herbert Avenue in Lindenhurst when Cristiano approached them, according to police. He identified himself as a police officer and offered to drive the girls to the library, noting that recent gang activity made it unsafe to walk in the area alone, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during a Thursday briefing.
Once they arrived in the parking lot, Cristiano allegedly told the 16-year-old to get out of the car so he could talk to the 14-year-old, according to police. (RELATED: REPORT: Police Search For Suspects After Two Children Were Abducted, Dropped Off At A Gas Station)
Cristiano then drove off with the 14-year-old to a nearby park, police said. Cristiano began touching the girl who was able to fight him and flee his vehicle. She ran to a nearby home where the homeowner called 911, according to police. At the same time, the 16-year-old flagged down a crossing guard after she became suspicious, according to Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
The crossing guard also called the police, according to Hart.
“This is every parent’s nightmare,” Bellone said.
Hart said that both girls were able to describe both the suspect and the vehicle, helping authorities narrow down the search to 400 vehicles matching in the county.
“I want to remind people that if you are ever stopped by a person who identifies themselves as an undercover officer, ask them for identification and their badge” Hart said.