Suspect in attempted abduction of teen at Willow Grove Park Mall surrenders to police

The incident happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday when the 14-year-old victim became separated from her friends.

Suspect in attempted abduction of teen at mall surrenders to police
During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, authorities confirmed that 44-year-old Khalil Evans was taken into custody.

WILLOW GROVE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The suspect who allegedly attempted to abduct a 14-year-old girl from the Willow Grove Park Mall in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on Wednesday night has surrendered to police.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, authorities confirmed that 44-year-old Khalil Evans was taken into custody.

He is facing charges of unlawful imprisonment of a minor, which is a second-degree felony. Evans faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Khalil Evans

The attempted abduction happened around 7 p.m. when the 14-year-old victim became briefly separated from her friends at the mall located on the 2500 block of Moreland Road.

The victim told police she was going down the escalator to the first floor when she was met at the bottom by an adult male who identified himself as "Alex."

Police say the suspect asked the teen to walk with him, extending his arm, but the victim told him she was underage and tried to step away.

During a press conference on July 13, 2023, authorities confirmed that 44-year-old Khalil Evans was in custody in connection with the attempted abduction of a teen at the Willow Grove Park Mall.

As she stepped away, police say the man grabbed her arm and led her across the mall.

"You can see by the video, he really grips her up and pulls her closer, almost like twisting her wrist," said Chief Patrick Molloy of Abington Township Police Department.

As they approached the mall exit, the teen was able to escape. She screamed, and she got away.

The suspect, and another male who was with him, immediately left the mall.

"These males are seen entering a dark gray Dodge/Chrysler minivan or 'crossover' type vehicle, possibly a Dodge Journey," said police in a news release.

Police believe she was targeted because she was alone.

"This young lady became separated with her friends. So although it was 7 p.m., the mall had other people shopping in there. We advise it's always safer to stay in the group. If there's people around, scream for help, someone is going to come help you," said Lt. Steven Fink with the Abington Township Police Department.

The other male seen on video with Evans is not facing charges at this time. Police say they are trying to figure out his exact role in this incident.

Action News has learned that more young women have come forward, including an 18-year-old who wants to remain anonymous. She says Evans and his friend approached her after the attempted abduction.

"We did speak with other young females, similar age to the victim in this case last night, who were approached and put in very uncomfortable situations by these older men who touched them, said inappropriate comments to them," said Fink. "It seemed like these guys were escalating their actions last night."

Authorities also told Action News they are looking into reports of a third incident at a separate mall.

Evans's criminal history spans Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. Just last week, a Philadelphia judge declared him mentally competent to stand trial for a 2022 gun possession case.

"He should have been detained. He should have been in jail. And I know there's a lot of things that go into those decisions on why people are back on the street. But this here is a disgrace and we need to do a better job. The system failed," added Chief Molloy.

Upon his arrest on Thursday, Evans was seen wearing a security uniform. Action News has reached out to the security company, but Abington Township police say he does not work security for the mall and they don't believe he works for the company.

The security company has not returned our request for comment.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Abington police at 267-536-1100.

PREIT, the owner of Willow Grove Park Mall, released this statement to Action News on Wednesday night's incident:

"As always the safety and security of our shoppers is a top priority. We were pleased to learn that one of the suspects was apprehended and we will continue to cooperate with the Abington PD in their investigation. We are thankful to both bystanders and authorities for their prompt reaction."