Potential child predator still being sought

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 24, 2013

A young girl is being praised for her heroism and quick thinking, which helped her escape from a male suspect police believe is likely a child predator.

The victim — a 13-year-old Farms girl — told police that an unknown man grabbed her while she was walking on Lothrop, between Kercheval and Ridge, around 4:16 p.m. June 16.

According to a police report, the suspect is described as a black male with a dark complexion and short hair, about 17 years of age, roughly 6 feet 1 inch tall and 180 pounds with a muscular build. He was wearing a red T-shirt and dark pants at the time of the assault.

The girl said the suspect — who was on a yellow BMX bike at the time — said to her, “Let me play with you for a minute.” When the child didn’t respond and kept walking, she said the suspect said, “Oh, you’re shy,” and grabbed her by the arm. The girl responded by punching the suspect in the stomach, at which point he said, “Oh, you’re feisty now.” The girl thought the suspect left the area, but she said she suddenly felt him grab her arm again, which is when she turned, kneed him and fled. Police said the girl had a red mark on her arm from where the suspect grabbed her arm.

“She set a great example of heroism,” Detective John Walko said of the victim. “She fought back. She did an exceptionally good job.”

Walko said the suspect was still at large as of press time, but some officers on patrol had seen the suspect in the area earlier in the day, before he reportedly grabbed the victim, so they’re confident they’ll recognize him if he returns. The case is something the entire department is working on, he said.

“We are definitely putting this on the forefront. … This (suspect) is an obvious monster,” Walko said.

Besides the usual advice — being aware of your surroundings, going places with others, staying in well-lit areas — Walko said kids should consider carrying a whistle or some other noisemaking device with them to use in an emergency like this.

“Anything that draws attention to witnesses (is a good idea),” he said, saying that yelling or screaming is good, as well. “Criminals hate witnesses.”

Many children already have cellphones, and Walko said these can be great safety tools.

“Tell your kids to put 911 on speed dial and just start yelling (their) location (at the time of the incident),” he said. “And do it before something (dire) happens. We can send everybody (from the Public Safety Department) home later. If you don’t feel comfortable, call right away.”

No other incidents like this have been reported nearby, Walko said.

Anyone with more information about the suspect or this incident can call (313) 885-2100.