Salt Lake police Thursday were looking for what could have been a cross-dressing man who investigators say tried to abduct two young girls from the main Salt Lake library.

About 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a person described as a "black female" approached an 8-year-old girl and her 5-year-old sister on the main floor of the library, 210 E. 400 South.

The adult grabbed the two girls by their wrists and tried to pull them to the building's exit, said Salt Lake police detective Jeff Bedard.

"The 8-year-old girl said she didn't want to go with her," said Salt Lake police detective Jeff Bedard. "She told her she was about to scream."

But just before the girl was about to yell for help, the group spotted a nearby security guard, he said. The adult let go of the children and continued walking out the door.

The girls ran to their mother and she called police.

The adult was described as a black female with a thin build, black hair pulled into a ponytail and bun, and was last seen wearing a blue/green shirt, a "sparkly" skirt with a black belt and high-heeled shoes.

A security officer spotted a person matching the same description as the suspect near the TRAX station across the from the library. However, he claimed she was wearing a wig and actually looked like a man in a woman's clothing, Bedard said.

The person was seen walking away from the TRAX station with an older man with gray hair, Bedard said.

Thursday afternoon, detectives were reviewing surveillance tape from the library in an attempt to identify the person.

Both library officials and the police say, overall, the library is a safe building. Bedard said he had never heard of a similar incident in the building.

"What we'd want the public to know is the library is a very public place that is used by many members of the community. We do try to insure that everyone will have a positive experience here, " said library director Beth Elder. "If anything makes a child uncomfortable, speak to a member of the library staff."

Bedard said children should remain relatively close to their parents in the library whenever possible. But if children ever find themselves in trouble from a stranger, they should do anything they can to draw attention from others.

"You scream, you yell, you draw as much attention to you as you possibly can," he said. "Once a child gets in a more remote place, the avenues for help and escape are greatly diminished."


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com