On a seemingly ordinary Saturday afternoon at the park in Sequim, Wash., two masked men grabbed a 4-year-old boy sitting on a park bench near his mother. The men proceeded to put the child in a van and drive off.
Parents reacted frantically, some running after the car attempting to get a license plate number, others called 911.
Their panic turned to outrage upon discovering that the abduction was a hoax in order to film a YouTube video to promote “kidnapping awareness,” according to the creators.
Jason Holden, 24, and his twin brother Jeremy, coordinated the hoax with their stepmother who allowed them to fake-kidnap their 4-year-old half brother for the video. Holden and his brother called the police prior to undertaking the prank to let them know what they were planning.
“The police never said it wasn’t a good idea,” said Holden. “They asked for our name and number and said they would notify the police in our area.”
However, representatives from the Sequim Police Department disagree.
“We got a call moments before the incident happened at the park, with someone saying something to the effect of they are going to be filming a documentary-type video involving a fake kidnapping,” Sgt. Detective Sean Madison told ABC News. “We don’t consider that to be a warning or an advisement.”
The entire prank lasted about five minutes. When the cousins returned to the playground area to inform parents that the boy was safe, they were angrily reprimanded.
“We explained that we were filming an awareness video for kidnapping, but everyone sat there and yelled at us,” said Holden. “We weren’t able to explain ourselves or apologize.”
The cousins may now be facing misdemeanor charges involving disturbing the peace and being a public nuisance.
“I’ll be the first to admit we didn’t handle everything in the best way,” said Holden. “We didn’t mean to make people so upset.”
Jason Holden and his twin brother Jeremy have a YouTube channel with other prank videos, where they are shown pulling stunts like leaving someone tied up in the trunk of a car on sale.
“Even though they said this was an awareness video, it’s very clear that all their other posts are pranks,” said Madison. ”There is certainly some inconsistency in what they’re saying and what they’ve posted online in the past.”