LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man is under arrest after police say he impersonated an officer and abducted a teenage girl.
Donald Cristiano Jr., of Bay Shore, is facing charges of kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal impersonation and luring a child.READ MORE: Wife Of Top Cuomo Aide Shows Support On Social Media For Governor's Latest Sexual Harassment Accuser
Police said the 46-year-old pretended to be a police officer to lure a 14-year-old and 16-year-old girl into his white SUV.
“When I received this call yesterday, [my] heart sank,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters Thursday. “Every parent’s worst nightmare.”
It happened around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday while the girls were walking on Herbert Avenue in Lindenhurst.
Cristiano allegedly told the teens he was investigating gang activity in the area and it wasn’t safe, so they should get into his vehicle. He asked them where they were going, and they said the library.
“That’s what makes me afraid, because we teach our kids, if they’re going to see police officers or firemen, to trust them. That’s why it’s so tough,” neighborhood father Michael Krzal told CBS2.
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Police said Cristiano drove the teens to the Lindenhurst Memorial Library parking lot and told the 16-year-old to get out so he could talk to the 14-year-old. He allegedly took off with the younger girl to nearby Fireman’s Park.
“While in the vehicle, that man grabbed the 14-year-old girl’s pants and waist and made inappropriate comments,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “She was able to grab the door handle, kick the door open while fighting him off. She was able to run to a nearby home, where the homeowner called 911.”
Meanwhile, the older girl told a nearby crossing guard what happened, and she called police.
The 14-year-old was taken to a hospital for observation and released. Police said both girls are doing well, considering the circumstances.
“It’s horrible. I’m so glad they got him,” said one local mom.
Investigators were able to use surveillance to track down Cristiano’s vehicle, and his own son verified his description. Police located him in a rooming house in Bay Shore.
Cristiano has no known record in New York, but had been arrested for several crimes, including assault, in Florida.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Competitors Johnson & Johnson And Merck & Co. Teaming Up To Increase Supply
Police want to remind the public: If anyone tells you they are an undercover officer, ask for identification.