HUNDREDS of volunteers have joined police searching for a missing 11-year-old boy who vanished seven days ago.
Gannon Stauch has not been seen since he left home to walk to a friend's house in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Local officers, the FBI and search and rescue experts scouring the Lorson Ranch neighborhood yesterday were joined by dozens of volunteers including off-duty soldiers.
And more than 300 residents have said they are ready to help the ongoing search as blue ribbons and missing posters were put up across town.
The El Paso county sheriff's office say they have received 134 tips and possible sightings so far but there is no trace of Gannon.
The schoolboy's mother Landen Hiott said at a tearful press conference: "I'm so thankful for all the outpouring of help this case has brought.
"My son is a very loving kid. He wouldn't want harm on anybody at all and it's so hard to think, 'Why is this happening to him?'
"I have no clue. My kid deserves to come home. My kid has a purpose, my kid has a life and is important to me and is important to everybody that is standing in this room."
Gannon was initially treated as a runaway, but the investigation was upgraded to an "endangered missing child case", reports the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Police said that takes account of how long he's been missing, the low overnight temperatures and his need for medication.
Gannon's stepmother Tecia Stauch reported the 4ft 9in youngster missing on January 27.
She said he left home between 3.15pm and 4pm to walk to a friend's house, but he did not say which friend.
Tecia has claimed she was treated as a suspect and denied a lawyer when investigators grilled her last week.
She also claimed her 17-year-old daughter was briefly handcuffed when detectives pulled their car over on Thursday.
She told KKTV deputies had guns drawn and told her they were going to shoot her without identifying themselves as law enforcement officers.
Tecia claimed they also refused her water and bathroom breaks, and wouldn't let her have a lawyer as they asked her about the disappearance.
She said: "During that time, some of those things made me feel uncomfortable the way they were saying things.
"So I immediately stopped and felt like an attorney would help me with some of the vocabulary and things like that that I needed help with and understanding some of the things they were asking."
Tecia also claims she has had more than 20 death threats online.
She insisted she would never harm her stepson and had taken care of him for the last two years.
Her husband Al Stauch, Gannon's dad, was reportedly out of town at the time.
He said his son has never run away before and was not like him to walk off.
Thouands have joined "Find Gannon Stauch" Facebook pages over the past week, with hundreds of posts speculating about what happened to him.
The rumors prompted a warning from the El Paso sheriff's office.
It said: "Any information prematurely released that has not been confirmed by the EPSO takes away from this investigation and does not help in locating Gannon."
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