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Schools issue warning on strangers

Evanston school officials have sent an alert to parents after a student was approached by a suspicious person as she waited for a school bus Tuesday morning.


Evanston school officials have sent an alert to parents after a student was approached by a suspicious person as she waited for a school bus Tuesday morning.

The school officials say police took a suspect into custody after the incident.

More in this letter from District 65 School Superintendent Hardy Murphy:

I feel it is important to alert you to an incident that occurred this morning involving one of our District 65 students. It involves a middle school female student being approached by a suspicious person while waiting for the school bus. It is our understanding that other adults were in the vicinity and came to the aid of this young student. The stranger was taken into custody by police.

This incident reminds us about the importance of practicing safe walking habits with children. Safe walk routes are posted on the D65 website www.district65.net. We also recommend that you remind your child to:

  • Always walk with a friend or trusted adult.
  • Stay alert to traffic signals and surroundings when walking.
  • Use the safe walk routes and avoid using alleys or shortcuts.
  • Obey all traffic signals, crossing guards and school patrol members.

If approached by a stranger, a child should:

  • Stay at arm’s length when a stranger approaches.
  • Not speak to the stranger.
  • Shout “NO” loudly and continually if the stranger attempts to lead the child away.
  • As soon as possible, tell a trusted adult what happened.

Other ways to help a child stay safe include having a family code word that only you and your child share. This way the child can feel secure in knowing who they can talk to or take a ride from.

Safety is a very high priority for our school community. I have asked local law enforcement to help our students feel safe by cruising streets and bus route stop areas during the hours immediately before and after school. You and our students can also help by practicing safe walking and bus stop waiting habits and reporting any suspicious activity.

Update 11:30 a.m.

Some parents who read the school letter interpreted this incident as an attempted abduction — and we did too in our initial report on the story.

Evanston police now tell us that there was no abduction attempt.

Police Commander Tom Guenther says the suspect approached the child in the 1800 block of Dodge Avenue and made what he described as “inappropriate comments” which alarmed the child and were overheard by her mother who was standing nearby.

Guenther says the suspect ran off when approached by police, but was apprehended.

Police plan to charge the suspect with disorderly conduct, but they are declining to release his name until formal charges have been filed.

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