Parents concerned after two students say man followed them home from school

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter, Lee Carpio - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A sixth grade student had a terrifying walk home when she and her friend were followed by a stranger. Now, like the child’s mother, parents and school officials want to raise awareness to keep children safe.

“I was walking home like I normally do. My friend was walking with me. There was a man in his car, sitting in his car, calling my friend’s name repeatedly and repeatedly, and every time he would say it, he got more aggressive,” the student said.

The student said the man was parked right beside the school sign.

“(My friend) said, ‘I don’t know that man,’ so we ignored him and kept walking away. He got out of his car and was about to come to our side of the sidewalk,” the student said. “She was like, ‘I think he is about to start following us walking all the way home.’”

At that point, the student’s friend jumped into another parent’s car who was closer to her than the car she needed to get to.

“I was waiting on my daughter and I saw her, so I beeped my horn,” the parent, who asked not to be identified, said. “That is when the other girl saw me. She’s like, ‘I am just going to go with you.’ And I was like: ‘Yes, of course. Jump in the back.’ Once she jumps in the back, she’s like, ‘That guy is chasing me.’ I got that fear. I got frustration at the same time because right in front of us, he was doing that.”

The parent captured video of the man she believed to be the suspect. Both students said the man was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and black pants.

The terror wasn’t over for the other student, though.

“After she got in the car, I just kept walking home because I thought he was going to give up, but he actually started following me,” the student said. “I saw that he was just behind me the whole time.”

She said she began to get scared but she caught up with older kids along her route home.

“They were already close to their homes, but they told me they would walk with me enough to get closer to my home,” the student said. “He eventually moved to the other side of the sidewalk, which I was kind of glad about, but I was really scared that he was going to go in front of me and try to take me.”

She said she began calling her mother on her cellphone and that’s when the man backed off and eventually got into another car that was following close by.

“I was at work,” said the student’s parent. “She was calling and calling. I couldn’t get to my phone, but when I saw her messages saying, ‘Mom, please answer the phone,’ of course, that frightened me.”

The parent said she is happy her daughter is safe but wants to bring attention to something that could have ended badly.

“I just want everyone to be aware,” said the parent. “I just got some pepper spray for my daughter now, and of course, the school is working with me to make sure she has an alternate way to get home.”

She said this incident is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“We live so close to the school, so I thought we were safe, but to have no idea that is even happening is the scary part,” the parent said. “It is just heart-wrenching.”

She said she would like to see more patrols on other streets near the school.

“Maybe if we had an officer or two patrol the back areas, as well,” the parent said. “If they could patrol the neighborhood rather than just the main streets could possibly help.”

Other parents chimed in on possible solutions to better protect students.

Parent Kristina Reyna sent KSAT the following email:

“As parents we trust a lot in our school to protect and the safety of our children. With everything going on these days with shootings and attempted kidnappings, it is very scary and we worry for the safety of kids at school and after school. We as parents and school officials have to stay vigilant and come together to ensure the safety of our children. We need to create some kind of safety plan for when that bell rings and school is dismissed. School officials have a hard time keeping an eye out on children as they stray off further from school property. Some walk home and some get picked up. However, keeping the children closest to the building until parents pick them up is a good idea. Or creating some sort of pick up plan. We’re walking the premises to ensure the children safety while they’re on school grounds waiting on parents to pick up. As parents, we always need to keep communication with our children. Volunteering to walk the premises while there are children still outside is another solution. We also need to make sure our children understand stranger danger and are aware of their surroundings at all times instead of looking down at their cell phones. There is always going to be a lurking horrible person waiting for the opportunity to take our babies or hurt them. This is sad and horrible that school is just barely begun and something like this has happened.”

Another parent said a concerning issue is that with so much traffic, it is hard to determine who is a parent picking up their child and who isn’t.

“It is hard to keep up with because there are so many parents that park along here,” said Annetta Allen. “The kids are walking across the street and hanging over there. You don’t know who is who. You don’t know who is coming. We just need more monitoring here.”

Kelvin Brantley is another parent who said he usually waits in the car for his daughter after school, but after learning about the incident, he felt standing in the heat would be much better and safer.

“Today, I wanted to show my presence to let people know we are not taking this,” said Brantley. “These are our children. This is our future. Don’t mess with them. So, I will be here for my daughter and will be here to intervene if I see someone messing with someone else’s child. There’s no telling what would have happened if those two girls got inside that vehicle. It is just sad that we live in a society where our children still can’t walk home safely.”

The following is the school’s letter to parents:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We were alerted today about an incident that occurred near our campus after school.  I am sending this letter home in an effort to have open communication with you and make sure you have accurate information.

Today, campus administration was notified of a male approaching two female students walking on Wenzel Road at approximately 3:45pm.  The students stated that a middle-aged man called the students over to his vehicle.  When they ignored him, he got out of the vehicle and began approaching the students.  The students walked away to where their ride was located.  The male then returned to his vehicle and drove off.

The individual is described as a bald, black male in his mid-40s.  He was driving a silver or gray car with dark tint. A report was filed with North East police and they are investigating the situation.

I urge you to continue to discuss stranger danger with your children. I have included some safety tips you may find helpful.

•   Stay with a group when walking to and/or from home.

•   Be cautious of adults asking for help.

•   If approached by a person offering rides, walk away.

•   Never get in a car with anyone unless your parent/guardian knows about it first.

•   Make sure that parents are familiar with the route that students take home and have for communication.

•   Know where to go for help.

•   Report any suspicious people or activities to a trusted adult and/or NEPD and SAPD.

•   If your child has a cell phone, instruct them on whom to call for help.

Safety is our number one concern for students.  Administrators, teachers and our NEPD officer will continue to be visible and monitor students in the morning and afternoon. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the school at (210) 356-6200.

Sincerely,

Marcus Alvarez

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