SOUTH LOOP — A Bronzeville woman said a man might have tried to abduct her 7-year-old son while shopping last week at the South Loop Mariano's.
Jai Ivester was at the grocery store at 1615 S. Clark St. on April 24 like she often is after picking up her children at Daystar School nearby.
Ivester was trying to get her kids to mosey past the store's gelato counter that afternoon when a man grabbed her son from behind and whispered something unintelligible in his ear. The man fled after the boy pulled away.
"So I started looking through the store like a mad woman" for the guy, Ivester said.
But to no avail. Store security told her the man got in a cab after fleeing the store.
"If you grab a kid, I'm guessing your intentions aren't good," Ivester said.
Police are classifying the incident as a battery, but it's weighing more on Ivester's psyche. She said she's upset at herself for taking an eye off her son, and will keep closer tabs on him in the future.
"I consider myself being extra diligent anyway," she said. "My kid is 7, and I still don’t let him eat grapes because I’m afraid he’ll choke."
Ivester's son is unfazed by the incident, but her younger daughter is alarmed, she said. Her family discussed what to do when approached by strangers, and Ivester said she's making her kids hold on to the shopping cart when they go grocery shopping from now on. She said she's not letting her son use public bathrooms by himself.
"He's really ready for that independence, but I won't give it to him now," she said.
Police declined to release surveillance footage of the incident, saying it's part of their investigation. The suspect remains at large.
A spokesman for Mariano's did not immediately respond to a request for comment.