WEST FARGO – Police were still investigating the day after two young boys were reported missing then found hours later playing video games at a friend's home.
West Fargo Detective Tim Runcorn said Wednesday that the case is still under review and there have been no criminal charges filed, but it could be referred to Cass County Social Services for an investigation.
The boys, ages 7 and 9, were last seen about 6 p.m. Tuesday at their apartment building at 1401 12th St. E. The brothers were found about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday a few apartment buildings down from their home after two K-9 units were used in a search, after a Code Red alert was issued in a 3-miles radius and after Fargo officers helped in the search, said West Fargo police Sgt. Adam Gustafson.
The boys were at a friend's house and apparently lost track of time playing video games, Gustafson said.
He said police weren't notified the boys were missing until about 10 p.m.
Runcorn said the boys' family had been out looking for them before calling police. He said some residents have asked him when officers should be notified about a possible missing child.
"If you know your kids are supposed to be here and they're not, I don't care if it's a half-hour or five minutes, if it is enough for you to be concerned, I think it's sufficient enough to call us," Runcorn said. "We'd rather have it come early than too late."
Adults were at the home where the boys were found, but they didn't know the boys were reported as missing, he said.
"[Officers] did interview them. They were just surprised we were looking for the boys," he said.
Mary Phillippi, director of the Red River Regional Dispatch Center, said they tried to reach 14,000 phone numbers with the Code Red alert, but 10,000 numbers were contacted.
Phillippi said dispatch issued the alert at the request of police, who determine what the message should say, where it is sent and who should get it.
The circumstances Tuesday night did not fit what the U.S. Justice Department requires to issue an Amber Alert for the boys, which includes believing a child was abducted, Runcorn said.
"The only thing we had last night was the information that the kids were not playing where they were supposed to have been," he said.
In order for an Amber Alert to be issued for a missing child under the age of 17, police must believe an abduction has taken place or that a child is in imminent danger. Police should also have good descriptions of the adults and children involved and notify the National Crime Information Center. Amber Alerts are issued by the state radio system.
Runcorn said the Red River Child Abduction Response Team was activated Tuesday to find the boys. The nationally recognized CART team is one of only about 20 in the nation and includes law enforcement and emergency personnel from across the region.