10/28/05 — Man sought after scare at Rosewood Elementary

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Man sought after scare at Rosewood Elementary

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 28, 2005 1:51 PM

Officials are working today to squelch rumors that child was abducted at Rosewood Elementary School, and are investigating reports of a suspicious person at the school on Thursday.

Ken Derksen, public information officer for Wayne County Public Schools, said this morning that precautionary safety procedures were followed by the school staff.

A man reportedly went to the school Thursday morning to register a child, Derksen said, then asked to use a rest room.

"A few minutes later, a teacher found him in an empty classroom and escorted him down to the office," he said. "He didn't have identification, so administration called 911."

Meanwhile, the man went outside to wait for a ride, he said.

Deputy Larry Mitchell of the Sheriff's Office is also a resource officer at Rosewood High School, where he was when the call came in. He said he responded immediately but the subject was gone when he arrived.

Derksen said the man came back to school grounds later that afternoon to pick up his car, at which time deputies were again called.

Mitchell said the call came in that the man was in his vehicle, attempting to leave the school campus.

"Some staff had blocked him, but somehow he got around them and left," he said. "Someone attempted to follow and got a license plate number."

Mitchell said a license plate check was made and the car owner was notified.

Sheriff Carey Winders said the vehicle owner said the car had been sold more than a year ago. It was uncertain whether the name the man gave when registering a child matched the one found during the license plate check.

Mitchell said at this point, the only facts are that the subject was in the school building and left. When asked why the man would have been waiting for a ride, only to return later for his own vehicle, he said, "I'd love to ask him that same question."

Derksen said the school staff did an excellent job of keeping everyone informed and that all appropriate safety measures were taken.

"No students were exposed to this individual; no students were in danger; and there were no safety issues," he said.

Winders said there have been an array of stories swirling around the community that a man "tried to snatch a child."

Winders said the man was believed to have left the school grounds, headed in the direction of Johnston County. He said efforts were made to keep the school staff informed and that the staff at a nearby day care center was also alerted about the incident.

He also stressed the importance of the public taking extra safety precautions around the upcoming Halloween weekend and especially when trick or treaters would be out on Monday.

"We will have deputies out in full force that night, working in subdivisions around the county," he said.