A 4-year-old boy remains missing and investigators are still working to drain a pond near his house, officials said Friday afternoon.
The Amber Alert issued for Raul Gonzalez Johnson on Wednesday said the boy was last seen on Village Drive on Wednesday afternoon, walking toward Crestline Road in Laurinburg. The FBI is assisting as the third day of the search is underway.
Since Friday morning, the focus of the search for Raul has been draining a nearby pond, where a dive team came up empty Thursday.
The pond has been a top area of interest since three separate K9 units individually “took the same course” from Raul’s home to the pond, Scotland County Sheriff Ralph E. Kersey said.
“We’re working to make arrangements to drain that pond to be 100 percent certain that Raul is not in there,” Jason Kaplan, a supervisory special agent with the FBI, said Friday afternoon. “Because we don’t know where Raul is right now, we’re pushing to pursue every possible lead, and we need the public’s help in finding him.”
The FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, a group of highly-trained experts in the field of missing children, is assisting in the effort.
Law enforcement officers have blocked local roads to check IDs. More than a dozen ground search teams made up of emergency responders have joined the search, Kersey said.
“We greatly appreciate the thoughts and prayers for this little boy,” Kersey said Friday. “Everyone has one goal: to find Raul and bring him home safely.”
Kersey said Thursday evening that crews were transitioning from search and rescue to an “investigative approach,” adding that the SBI and FBI were joining the search.
Asked whether the investigation had ruled out foul play, Kersey said his statement from Thursday had not changed.
“Raul is still considered missing … and that’s where we are at this moment,” Kersey said.
Kaplan said nothing is being ruled out as a possibility.
Kersey on Thursday said investigators have looked at “every type of situation,” including whether the boy wandered off, was taken by someone or if he was moved by a family member.
Raul is about 3 feet tall, weighing 38 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white and orange tiger-striped shirt and white pants with rocket ships on them.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Raul Gonzalez is asked to call the Scotland County Sheriff`s Office at 910-276-3385, or call 911.