HONOLULU (KHON2) - Honolulu police are investigating the attempted kidnapping of a young girl at Ala Moana Center Monday night.
Officers responded to the mall shortly after 7 p.m.
A witness tells KHON2 the incident occurred at Lucky Strike Social.
According to police, a 9-year-old girl was with her nanny when a man started following her.
The witness tells us at first, she thought the man was the girl's father, but after a while, her instincts told her something was wrong.
"I thought he was her dad, and then I kept watching him and I kept seeing how he was following her, then I said no, this cannot be her dad," the witness said. "It was really suspicious that he was looking at her, like side-eye. Every time she moved, he followed her."
Police say the suspect touched the girl's butt, followed her into a photo booth, and scooped her off the ground. After a short struggle, police say the girl managed to kick the suspect and break free.
Police say the suspect left the arcade as the girl ran to tell her nanny.
The witness tells KHON2 she didn't see the suspect touch the girl, but saw him again when he ran out.
"I thought he stole something from her because I saw him exit the building," she said. "I went to where the little girl was, and her nanny, and I asked her what happened. 'Did the guy steal something from you?' and she said no, that he was trying to touch her in her private areas."
The witness said she tried to run after him, but he was nowhere to be found.
"It felt sick. That's a sick thing to do, because we're on spring break right now and parents need to be aware of their kids, because there is stranger. There are men out there that try to prey on little girls like that," she said.
The girl was not hurt.
Police opened an attempted kidnapping and third-degree sex assault case.
They released a sketch and surveillance video of the suspect.
He is described to be 5 feet 9 inches tall, and 120 to 140 pounds with a slim to medium build. He had long, blond hair in a ponytail or bun, and a beard. He was wearing a white T-shirt and khaki shorts, and carried a black drawstring bag.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or click here to submit an anonymous tip online.
Lucky Strike Social issued the following statement Wednesday:
"Lucky Strike Social would like to clarify that the footage from our surveillance cameras was released to the Honolulu Police Department according to proper protocol. The safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority. We are incredibly thankful that the little girl is home safe and sound with her family, and we have and will continue to fully cooperate with the local authorities to assist in any way we can. As this is an ongoing investigation, we ask that further inquiries be directed to the Honolulu Police Department."
Child therapist Allison Lipscomb recommends having an ongoing, open communication about stranger danger as kids become more independent.
"As a parent you want to talk to your child in a very calm way, because what you want to do is instill confidence and power into the child not fear," said Lipscomb.
Lipscomb says age 2 to 3 is a good time to talk about general safety like staying closing to mommy and daddy.
Around 4, kids are ready to learn the difference between good strangers and bad strangers.
Between 5 to 8 when kids have more unsupervised time, that's when they need to learn about what to do to keep themselves safe.
"It's really great if parents have this ongoing, open communication with their child about good touch, bad touch and good strangers, bad strangers," said Lipscomb. "Helping children know how to not go near strangers, not go near a car. If a stranger says 'Oh I need help,' strangers don't really need help from children. Adults don't need help from children."