The FBI has joined the search for a 14-year-old boy who disappeared from the streets of San Fernando last week during a powerful storm.
At a news conference Friday morning, Los Angeles police said they hoped that the addition of FBI investigators would help them track down Elias Rodriguez.
“Our main goal is to bring Elias home,” JoAnna Fontenette, deputy chief for the Los Angeles School Police Department, said. “We want to bring him home safely.”
The Sylmar boy was reported missing on Feb. 17, when he failed to return home after school. Authorities have already offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his recovery.
On Friday, local and federal police canvassed business owners along Glenoaks Boulevard, handed out photos of the missing boy, and asked residents if they had seen “anything out of the ordinary.”
Elias was last seen about 1:30 p.m. after he left Cesar Chavez Learning Academies in the 1000 block of Arroyo Avenue, in the city of San Fernando, police said. He borrowed his friend’s cellphone and left a message for his mother, saying he was walking home to Sylmar.
Surveillance camera footage in the area shows Elias walking in front of businesses along Glenoaks Boulevard as powerful winds and pounding rain pummeled parts of Southern California.
Authorities have scoured the Los Angeles River and found no sign of the teen.
LAPD Lt. Katie Burns said Elias’ disappearance was unusual because he was not known to run away. Missing teens are usually found with friends or family members within 48 hours of their disappearance, she said.
“In my heart ... I hope that he was somewhere with friends or family and that he just maybe didn’t want to go home,” Burns said.
It is possible, however, that he was swept into the river or “picked up by a predator,” she said.
Police are asking anyone with information about Elias to call the LAPD Mission Division at (818) 838-9800.