School students accosted by suspect
Tracy Royston helps her daughter Maya with her backpack in front of John Minadeo Elementary School in Squirrel Hill yesterday. Maya is in the pre-kindergarten program. Ms. Royston normally drives her to school.
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For the second time since February, elementary school students have been accosted on city streets.
This week, police received reports of at least four incidents involving at least four girls in Allentown and Squirrel Hill.
Police have beefed up their presence around neighborhood schools, and letters warning of stranger danger were sent home to parents yesterday.
City police said a white man approached a 7-year-old girl about 8 a.m. Monday at McLain and Allen streets in Allentown and touched her on the buttocks.
The man was described as about 20, wearing shorts and a white shirt.
About 45 minutes after that incident, a white man approached a 10-year-old girl at Caton Street and Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill. The man, described as having long hair and wearing baggy jeans and a long T-shirt, bumped into the girl and touched her on the buttocks.
Another incident occurred at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday at Saline and Lilac streets in Squirrel Hill. A white man got out of a gray car and touched a 10-year-old girl on the buttocks as he walked past her.
He was described as having spiked hair and wearing brown sweatpants and a long orange-and-white T-shirt. He was about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds.
Then, about 8 a.m. yesterday, a white man approached a 9-year-old girl on Allen Street in Allentown and touched her on the buttocks as he walked past her, city police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.
A witness yelled at the man, who may have been 18 to 20 years old or as old as 40. The man may have been using a silver car, Cmdr. Stangrecki said.
Cmdr. Stangrecki said it wasn't immediately clear whether the incidents in Allentown and Squirrel Hill were related. But he said he was investigating whether the Squirrel Hill incidents were related to a similar complaint from that neighborhood in February.
On Feb. 7, a white man attempted to pull down the skirts of two girls in the 5800 block of Hobart Street. He was in his 20s, about 6 feet, 1 inch tall with a thin build and short brown hair. He is believed to have been using a small silver car.
The students involved in this week's incidents attend Pittsburgh Public Schools. The students involved in the February case attended Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh.
The principals of Pittsburgh Grandview PreK-5 in Allentown and Pittsburgh Minadeo PreK-5 in Squirrel Hill sent letters to parents yesterday.
"If your children walk to school, we urge you to take time to review important safety tips ... For example, do not talk to strangers or individuals they do not know; do not respond to individuals either on foot or in vehicles who ask them to look at something or talk with them; run away and yell as loud as they can if they are approached by someone they don't know," the letters said.
Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the district increased school police presence in areas around Grandview and Minadeo at lunchtime and dismissal yesterday. School staff members stood outside the buildings and supervised student safety patrols.
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the city police sex assault office at 412-323-7141.
First Published May 22, 2008 12:00 am