Parents Anxious As Man Stalks West End Girls
A group of anxious parents met at PS 114 on Beach 135 Street in Belle Harbor last Tuesday night to listen to police officials talk about a number of recent events in which young girls were harassed by adult males.
While Detective Sergeant Bronco Yuri sak, the Squad Supervisor for the 100 Precinct said that there is only one documented report of such activity, parents and others say that there were at least three separate incidents and that two of them were reported to police officers.
Those three incidents reportedly occ urr ed on Wednesday, March 3 and Thurs day, March 4. The Wave has granted anonymity to all of those who requested it in connection with this story to protect the identities of the young girls involved.
The details of the incidents are sketchy, but The Wave has pieced together the following from a number of sources.
On March 3, a 12-year-old girl walking home from PS 114 was approached by a man that police describe as a "Male Black in his mid-20’s." The man reportedly pulled up next to the girl in a tan mini-van and began yelling "Get in this van, get in this van." When the girl ran away, the man apparently left the area.
The next day, however, there were two separate incidents and police are not sure if the same man is responsible.
At about 3:45 p.m., three eleven-year-old girls who were playing on Beach 138 Street decided to walk to the shopping area on Beach 129 Street for pizza.
According to the grandmother of one of the girls, they were on Beach 133 Street when they approached a man in an "old, nondescript car with the radio playing loudly."
As they passed the car, the man inside, described as a Black male wearing a knitted cap pulled over his forehead," motioned them to get into the car.
The girls ran and the car followed. The man continually waved at the girls to get into the car.
"The girls were terrified," the grandmother said. "They were afraid that if they told anybody that the man would come and get them and kill them."
The trio finally wound up at Harbor Light restaurant on Beach 130 Street and Newport Avenue.
One girl called home, still afraid to say anything.
"She asked her mother to pick them up," the grandmother said. "She told her that they were too tired to walk all the way home."
It was only later that night that the granddaughter told what had happened.
The grandmother told The Wave that she called police and that two officers came to her home and talked to the three girls, but, apparently, no report was ever filed by the officers.
The third event also happened on Thursday. Two young girls walking home from St. Francis de Sales School was approached by a "Black male in a tan or white van" who yelled at them to "Get in this van." They also ran and got home safely. One of the girls told her parents and a report was filed. The other family is reportedly still mulling over whether to file a report.
Both St. Francis de Sales and PS 114 sent notes home to parents, warning them of the dangerous situation.
Those attacks prompted the Tuesday night meeting, sponsored by the parent association.
"Parents were hearing all sorts of stories about these attacks," Parent Association President Geri McGee told the parents who attended the meeting. "We’ve asked the 100 Precinct here to give us information and to provide tips on keeping our children safe."
Police officials at the meeting pointed out that the man had not really committed a crime since he neither touched them nor directly threatened them.
Nevertheless, Sergeant Yurisak said that they were working with both the auto squad and the sex crimes squad to run down a known sex offender with a registered automobile that matches the vehicle used in the incidents.
One man at the meeting pointed out to police that there was a growing problems with the Internet in the community.
"A neighbor called me to ask if my nine-year-old daughter had a profile on AOL," he said. "I checked. She had put her name, her address and the fact that she hangs out at the playground on Beach 129 Street on her profile."
The father then checked the profiles of some of his daughter’s friends on AOL.
Five of them had similar profiles, a number of them included pictures.
"This could create a disaster," the father said. "There are a lot of crazy people out there who look at these profiles and could be drawn to the children who place them."
He urged parents to check their children’s computer activities and to take the profiles off the service.
The parents at the meeting called for increased police patrols and better information on sex offenders moving into the neighborhood.
Crime Prevention Police Officer Brian McCabe gave some tips to parents.
He urged parents to have their children walk home in pairs or in larger groups. He asked them to supervise their children when they are in local playgrounds.
"You have to educate your kids," he told the parents. "You have to tell them to say no when a stranger comes up to them and wants to show them a puppy or play with a Nintendo Game. You have to let them know not to go with a stranger who comes to pick them up after school with a story about why they are there. "
"We don’t want to scare our kids," McCabe added. "But we do want to make them streetwise."
Police said that they would soon hold assembly programs in local schools to speak with kids about what to do in case a stranger approaches them, McCabe said.