Police and rescue workers scoured fields and woods Thursday night for a boy missing in the Shiloh area. Their hours-long sesarch ended in the bathroom of a Belleville Walmart.
“He was found safe, so the end result is fantastic,” said Shiloh Police Chief Gary McGill, who helped lead a multijurisdictional effort to find the 12-year-old boy who had run away from home earlier in the evening.
The ordeal came to an end around 10:35 p.m. Thursday when an employee at the nearby Walmart, 2608 Green Mount Commons Drive, called Belleville police to let them know that a person they believed to be the boy was hiding in the men’s bathroom. The boy was found in the first stall in the bathroom by three Belleville police officers. The shoeless boy was wearing only a T-shirt and sweatpants.
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“The response was overwhelming,” said McGill, who serves as the assistant chief for the Shiloh Police Department. “How many people from the public volunteered to help search? We have phone calls, Facebook, everybody was volunteering. That was fantastic.”
McGill put the St. Clair County Manpower Pool to work just after 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, after his department received a report of a boy who had gone missing. McGill said the boy had gotten into a fight with his parents and stormed out of their house near the Shiloh Police Department headquarters on the eastern edge of the village. A number of first responders from throughout the county descended on Shiloh to help with the search.
They had concentrated on a wooded area to the east of North Green Mount Road near Brighton Lane. McGill said the boy lived in a nearby subdivision to the north of the police department and had run that direction.
All-terrain vehicles were at the ready and large floodlights were put into use to try to illuminate the area. A St. Louis County helicopter flew overhead around 8:30 p.m. in attempt to give searchers more light. Around 10 p.m., McGill said workers were going to use a grid search in attempt to locate the boy. Just after that search started, officials got word that the boy was found safely.
McGill, a long-time Shiloh Police Department employee, said it is rare for the department to have a missing person’s case like Thursday’s.
“Normally when a kid runs away we know where they are going or they come back right away,” he said. “With it being this late and this cold with no shoes and (wearing) thin clothes, if he didn’t make it to Walmart and had gotten into one of these ravines, it might have turned out differently.”