TACOMA - An Independence Day celebration turned into a nightmare for an immigrant family late Wednesday night when their 12-year-old daughter vanished, the victim of an apparent abduction.
The girl's father, Michael Linnik, heard a scream from the alley in the back of the family house, then ran outside to see a van speeding from the area.
Police are searching for Zina Linnik, who last was seen around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday in the alley in the 2500 block of South J Street. They're also seeking an older-model gray van seen leaving the neighborhood.
Zina is 4 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 80 pounds and has blonde hair. She was last seen with her hair in a ponytail and was wearing a pink T-shirt; pink, orange and yellow capri pants; and flip-flop sandals.
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Police deployed search dogs and walked throughout the neighborhood Thursday.
Zina's parents are immigrants from Ukraine who don't speak English well, so police were interviewing them through their children.
Stan Linnik, Zina's 18-year-old brother, said Thursday that family members looked for the girl in the neighborhood and were worried all night.
According to family members, Zina was with a group of children watching fireworks in the alley. She stayed behind when the rest of the group walked down the alley to check out something.
Then, family members heard a scream coming from the alley, according to the account they gave police. When Zina's father ran outside, he saw the gray van speeding away down the alley.
Family members, who contacted police shortly after the incident, said they thought the van belonged to a neighbor, said Mark Fulghum, spokesman for Tacoma police. But police ruled out the neighbor as a suspect after they interviewed him early Thursday morning, he said.
After doing so, police issued an Amber Alert about 10:30 a.m.
The driver of the van was described as an Asian male, but Fulghum said he might or might not have been Asian because the family member who saw the van speed away only saw the side of the van and didn't get a good look at the driver in the dark.
Police are searching for the van with a license plate containing numbers 1677. Anyone with information is asked to call Tacoma police at 253-830-6508 or go to www.washingtonamberalert.com.