TORONTO -- Investigators say they are searching for a suspect after the attempted abduction of an eight-year-old girl near a school in Toronto’s Downsview neighbourhood on Friday afternoon.

Toronto police say the girl was walking outside Blaydon Public School, located near Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue, around 3:30 p.m. when she was approached by a “strange man.”

According to investigators, the man allegedly grabbed the girl, covered her mouth with his hand and dragged her about 60 metres towards an SUV. He then allegedly tried to force her into the vehicle.

“As he tried to put her in the car she was able to break free and run to safety,” Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said. “As far as I am aware she is fine. She didn’t suffer any significant injury.”

“She is probably very shaken up, very afraid,” he said.

The suspect has been described by investigators as being a white male standing at about 5’8”, with a skinny build and short grey hair. He is believed to be about 40 or 50 years old.

He was last seen wearing a blue and pink t-shirt, grey sweat pants and black dress shoes.

Investigators say the suspect was seen driving what is believed to be a red Mazda CX-5 with tinted windows. They have released a photograph of the vehicle, which was captured on security camera video.

suspect vehicle, attempted abduction

Investigators do not believe there was anyone else in the vehicle at the time of the incident.

Hopkinson said that the fact that the attempted abduction occurred in broad daylight in front of a school is concerning, but he hopes that people will come forward with information.

“I believe there were other people around or nearby,” he said. “I believe the attack happened very quickly. The information is this assailant covered this girl’s mouth with his hand so she wasn’t able to make any noise, so unless somebody saw something, they wouldn’t know what was going on. We are hoping someone saw something strange, maybe him driving in the area, maybe him driving away.”

“We are hoping for the public’s help to try and identify the car and potentially find who was driving it.”

The Toronto District School Board said they have been made aware of the incident and will be "reviewing street proofing tips with students on Monday."

The school board will also be sending a letter home to parents.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-3100 or to reach out to Crime Stoppers anonymously.