AMBER Alert: Officials draining pond near Scotland County boy's home

LAURINBURG, N.C. (WNCN/WBTW) - Officials in Scotland County are draining a pond in their search for a missing 4-year-old boy, and the FBI has arrived on-scene to assist in the investigation. The move came after divers searched the pond after dogs led investigators there.

An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday evening for Raul Johnson - who stands around 3 feet tall and weighs 38 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.

"Not questioning anything that's been done today, right at this moment, I'm going to drain the pond," said Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey.

The sheriff said that it's standard protocol for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reach out to local officials and ask if they can be of assistance when a child has been missing for 24 hours. He said at this point he's not turning away any assistance.

The Scotland County sheriff said more than 200 people were out searching Thursday for the boy, who was last seen Wednesday.

The boy was last seen wearing a white and orange tiger-striped shirt with tigers on it and white pants with rocket ships printed on them.

Kersey said divers have been in the water for about two hours searching a pond about 800 yards from the boy's home.

Raul Johnson was last seen walking on Village Drive towards Crestline Road in Laurinburg.

He also confirmed Thursday afternoon that the case is still a missing persons case and but investigators have not ruled out any circumstances.

"There is nothing we have found with interviews with family members, next door neighbors or information from the public that would indicate foul play," Kersey said.

The sheriffs said K-9 units have provided the most reliable information.

Investigators have been searching within a 2-mile radius from where the child was last seen.

The child has wandered off before, Kersey said. Johnson was missing for about 25 minutes Tuesday morning and was found by the grandfather.

The 4-year-old's mother, Annie Johnson said she was at work when her father called her at 11 a.m. Wednesday and told her Raul went missing.

"He [her father] was in the kitchen cooking and my daughter was in the bedroom, she was in the room playing with him and said he went missing and went outside looking for him but he couldn't find him," said Johnson.

Johnson said she left work as soon as her father told her Raul was missing.

"I told him to call 911," she said with tears in her eyes. "I thought maybe he was just hiding because he likes to hide, but he never stays gone this long he always comes back. If I holler for him he comes back and this time he didn't come back."

Scotland County officers said they began searching for the 4-year-old around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Officials said several law enforcement agencies across the state and up to Richmond, Virginia, are searching for the child.

"I just don't know if somebody took him or if he's lost in the woods or if something happened to him in the water," the child's mother said. "I don't know, I just want him home."

If you have any information regarding this abduction, call the Scotland County Sheriff`s Office immediately at (910) 276-3385, or call 911 or *HP.


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