NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - Deputies in Pasco County named a high school senior a person of interest in an attempted kidnapping Wednesday, but the teen says the whole thing was a joke and a misunderstanding.
18-year-old Drew Bretnall says he and a friend were visiting someone inside a gated community near Deer Park Elementary when a 9-year-old girl walked by them. Bretnall said they noticed the girl kept turning to look at them and looked uneasy, so they thought it would be funny to scare her by taking a few steps toward her.
Bretnall posted a video on Snapchat of what he says is his friend appearing to chase the girl. He provided that video to FOX 13.
Deputies say the girl ran to a neighbor's house and then to her own before she set off the alarm in her home and deputies responded to the scene.
Bretnall says he had no idea the girl reported the incident until he woke up Wednesday to his picture and license plate plastered all over the internet. He says he agreed to go to the sheriff's office and answer questions after they named him a person of interest.
"I go to high school. I'm 18. I work a job and I never intended for any of this to happen," said Bretnall.
The sheriff's office will only say that it has had contact with Bretnall and his friend. They are still calling the teens persons of interest. When asked if the teens will face charges or if Bretnall was erroneously painted as guilty of a crime, a spokeswoman would only say the investigation is ongoing.
Bretnall says he's receiving death threats online and he hopes the sheriff's office will correct the record and clear his name.
"I just want them to delete the post saying that I'm a kidnapper because there's no true evidence that I am and I never committed a crime," said Bretnall.
There is a dispute over whether Bretnall and his friend ever tried to get the girl to come into their car. The girl reported they did, but Bretnall says that never happened.
The girl was unharmed.