Stranger allegedly grabs girl by arm near Vernon school

Witnesses sought as girls, aged 11, claim unknown man grabbed one of their arms near school

Witnesses are sought as two 11-year-old girls allege that an unknown man grabbed one girl by the arm near a Vernon school.

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP is seeking witnesses to a suspicious occurrence which occurred near a local school early Tuesday evening. Just after 6 p.m., officers were called to the area of Mission Hill Elementary, in the 1500-block of 36th Street after two girls, both aged 11, reported that while walking on a path near the school, an unknown man approached them and allegedly grabbed one of the youth by the arm.

One youth thought quickly and ran into public view on the street, yelling for help, which caused the man to quickly let go of the other girl’s arm and flee on foot, police said.

The girls were able to grab the attention of a passing vehicle, and the vehicle’s occupants helped the girls to safety by retreating into a nearby church.

“Officers are currently investigating this incident, however, are looking to speak to the good Samaritans that assisted the youth last evening, as they left prior to police arrival and were not identified,” said RCMP spokesperson Const. Kelly Brett.

RELATED: Police investigate suspicious Armstrong incident

Maritza Reilly, School District 22 communications coordinator, said the District has been made aware of the incident and is sending a letter to Mission Hill Elementary parents.

“The students are safe and took all the appropriate measures in this situation,” Reilly said. “As police continue to investigate the incident, we are encouraging parents and guardians to speak with their children and remind them to be aware of their surroundings as they walk around in the community.”

Reilly recommends students avoid using shortcuts, walk with friends, inform someone where they are going and when they will be back, phone home when leaving a friends’ house, trust their instincts and phone home if they will be delayed.

The suspect in this incident is described as a man with tan-coloured skin, wearing dark or all-black clothing, approximately five-foot-seven to five-foot-10 tall with a thin-to-average build.

The youth were not physically injured as a result of this incident.

The Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP are asking anyone who may have been in the area of the 1500 block of 36th Street on Tuesday, Feb. 12, between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. and may have witnessed this male or suspicious occurrence, to please contact the RCMP at 250-545-7171 and reference file #2019-3092.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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