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No charges filed in kidnapping hoax
After a week full of furor about a hoax kidnapping, the result is there are no laws against being a prankster, according to Sequim Chief of Police Bill Dickinson and City of Sequim attorney Craig Ritchie.
Two men in ski masks faked the kidnapping of the relative of one of them at Carrie Blake Park on Saturday, April 11, though they claimed they notified the Sequim Police Department of their intentions.
As late as early Thursday afternoon, April 17, Dickinson was pursuing charges of an unrestrained child, dangerous behavior, a city ordinance, and failure to get a filming permit. But later that day, Ritchie declined to press charges in a case that brought national attention.
“At 5:32 p.m. Saturday, PenCom dispatch called our patrol sergeant, who returned the call to the dispatch center,” Dickinson said. “Someone said they were going to be filming a staged kidnapping video. At 5:36 p.m. 9-1-1 calls started coming in saying there was a kidnapping. We did not know for sure what we had.”
Contrary to what one of the perpetrators said, no one made direct contact with any Sequim Police officer and never got permission from the department to film, Dickinson said.
In a YouTube video of the “kidnapping,” eyewitnesses said they saw a man in a ski mask, later identified as Jason Holden — a Tacoma resident and formerly of Port Angeles — scoop up a boy from a playground, put him in a vehicle in front of shaken onlookers and drive away.
One witness, Tiffany Barnett, took it upon herself to chase the “kidnapper’s” car for a block. She declined to be interviewed.
Holden returned to the park with the boy, later identified as a relative, and a woman identified as the boy’s mother. They told officers that they were making an educational video on how the public would react to a real kidnapping, Dickinson said.
Sequim Police Sgt. Dave Campbell and officers Grant Dennis and Anthony Graham responded to the park and it was all over in four minutes, Dickinson said.
When witnesses found out it was a staged event, several yelled at Holden and the child’s mother.
“Citizens were very unhappy to find out the prank was a staged event,” Dickinson said. “The child was not traumatized but the parents and children in the park were significantly affected. Children saw their parents freaking out. These perpetrators stole that sense of security and safety people have,” Dickinson said.
The incident easily could have turned tragic, Dickinson said, because “we have a huge number of retired law enforcement and a huge number of open carry plus off-duty officers. Anyone of those people seeing that happen might have chosen to stop the ‘kidnapping’ with a gun. It could have been tragic results for the perpetrators of the prank.”
Dickinson showed that Holden and his twin brother Jeremy have at least a dozen prank videos on YouTube, including one with a robbery in which unsuspecting victims were forced to the ground.
“These guys are amateurs that specialize in pranking. It’s kind of like ‘Jackass the Movie’ meets ‘Candid Camera’ meets the Internet,” Dickinson said. “They thought this one would be funny, too. It turned out not to be.”
After the incident, Jason Holden and Jeremy Holden said they were making an educational video about the real threat of child kidnapping. On their web page they apologized, saying they weren’t expecting such an intense reaction from Sequim residents.
“I’m really proud of our citizens demonstrating the good character of the Sequim community,” Dickinson said.
“The perpetrators don’t represent Sequim. I think they didn’t think through the consequences. What disappoints me is that all this attention is giving them exactly what they wanted.”