The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is searching for a man accused of making lewd comments towards an 11-year-old girl as she walked home from school in Poway.
According to investigators, the incident happened Thursday around 3:20 p.m. in the 14200-block of Tierra Bonita Road.
A girl was walking home from Twin Peaks Middle School when she noticed a man standing in a driveway on Tierra Bonita Road.
As the girl walked past him, investigators say the man walked past the girl on the side of the road and stopped in another driveway. He then allegedly approached the girl and made lewd comments and gestures towards her, which investigators say were sexual in nature.
As the man continued to do this, the 6th grader ignored him and walked faster until she got away. When the girl got home, she reported the incident to her mother, who then called deputies.
Detectives say the incident is under investigation. Deputies have been contacting nearby residents to see if anyone saw anything suspicious and are also working with the Poway Unified School District.
Following the incident, the district sent an email to parents of students at Twin Peaks Middle School and two other elementary schools in the area.
The warning is a stark reminder to Poway families that in any community, parents and children must remain on guard.
The case has rattled some Poway parents, including Karen Smith, who has a young son and daughter. They live just blocks from where the 11-year-old victim was approached by the stranger.
“It's hard to hear that that is in our neighborhood,” Smith said.
Parent Dawn Hubbard learned of the incident when she came to campus for a Girl Scouts meeting on Friday.
“I find it very disturbing being so close to school. Even though my daughter doesn't go to this school, being in Poway, I think it affects all of us,” Hubbard told NBC 7. “It's a sad reminder that we need to be vigilant and watch out for each other's children.”
Though the young victim escaped without harm, the case has left a lasting impact on Poway parents.
“It makes it that much more disturbing when you think you live in a safe community,” Hubbard added.
“I will definitely pay more attention – especially when driving outside our street,” said Smith.
Investigators describe the suspect accused of child harassment as a man between 35 and 45 years old, 5-foot-9 with a medium build and short, straight, brown hair.
Anyone with information on this case, or any additional victims, should contact the Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.