The FBI has joined the investigation into the disappearance of a 14-year-old boy went missing in San Fernando amid a powerful storm as the mutli-agency effort to locate the teen was ramped up on Friday, LAPD said.
The Los Angeles Police Department, the San Fernando Police Department and the Los Angeles School Police Department are also investigating the disappearance of 14-year-old Elias Rodriguez, who hasn't been seen since he left his school in the 1000 block of Arroyo Street last Friday afternoon.
A person matching the description of Elias was captured on surveillance video about 1:40 p.m. on Glen Oaks Boulevard, LAPD Capt. Robert Marino said at a morning news conference.
Officers on Friday were going to go door to door to residences and businesses in the area to see whether anyone witnessed anything suspicious or out of the ordinary, according to Marino.
Elias attends the Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies in the city of San Fernando. The school is located just a few blocks from his grandparents' house, and he would usually go there once classes were done for the day.
Investigators were focusing on the boy's route home, which is roughly the span of three blocks, LAPD Lt. Kathleen Burns said at the news conference.
The teen was last seen by friends and students walking along Arroyo Street before he vanished, his aunt, Jessenia Vega, said earlier this week.
Family members have not heard from Elias since that day and are concerned for his safety. They say he has never run away from home before.
Elias also would never leave his mother, who has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer, Vega said.
Burns described the case as "unusual" because he has no known history of running away, nor did he have any family problems at home.
Elias called his mother Friday before leaving school from a friend's phone, but she didn't pick up because she didn't recognize the number, according to Burns. The teen left a voicemail saying he was walking home, she added.
Burns noted Southern California had been hit by a major storm the day he disappeared, and about 5 inches of rain fell in the area. A nearby wash has been searched multiple times, including as recently as yesterday.
"In my heart I wish, I hope he was somewhere with friends or family and he maybe didn’t want to go home. Obviously though, we have to explore everything that could possibly happen. And whether it was unfortunate that … something happened, that he got into the wash, or whether something worse happened, he was picked up by a predator – we don’t know," she said.
The FBI became involved after local law enforcement requested their assistance.
“Investigations like this … you want to use as many resources as you can -- have a fresh set of eyes, go over it, see if there’s anything else we can do, or anything else we can check, or anything else we can follow up," Burns said.
Between 50 and 60 law enforcement personnel are on the case, according to the lieutenant.
Elias is described as Hispanic, with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hat, black sweatpants, a gray sweatshirt with "Lakeview" on it.
The L.A. City Council has approved a $50,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Elias and his safe return home, according to Marino.
Anyone with information about the teen's disappearance, or has seen Elias since he was reported missing, is asked to contact the LAPD Mission Area watch commander at 818-838-9800.
Those who wish to provide a tip anonymously can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.