Parents in the Upper Valley are breathing a sigh of relief. Hartford police have determined who was following school kids in Wilder. They say they've identified the gray van and the men who some feared were stalking kids.
Upper Valley parents took to the web, warning others on Facebook about a trio of suspicious characters allegedly targeting kids on their way home from school. But now police say there's nothing to worry about. Still-- they have some advice for parents.
"I'm a parent myself and I would find it very alarming," Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brad Vail said.
On Monday-- the first incident. A teacher reported seeing men following a female middle school student on Hartford Avenue.
"The male subjects walked past her and as she passed, they turned around and started following her. A teacher that was driving by witnessed it, pulled over to talk to the student as a deterrent," Vail said.
The men allegedly took off in a gray van without license plates. On Tuesday, police heard from parents on Facebook that a second child was spooked after being followed by a similar vehicle. And on Thursday, police were told the suspects surfaced once again. This time allegedly watching kids at Kilowatt Field and waving what appeared to be a weapon.
Philip Sargent has lived next to the field for 50 years. As a parent, he says the suspicious behavior in his backyard is unsettling.
"It makes me apprehensive, a little uneasy to think that that kind of activity is in the area. That it's going on," Sargent said.
As a precaution, the Hartford School District drafted a letter alerting parents. And Deputy Chief Vail gave this warning: "Know the time your child is supposed to get out, know the time that the child is supposed to be at home. Have them call and say, yes, I got home safe, and at least have the children walk in groups if they don't have an adult with them."
But again, Friday evening police issued a statement saying they feel confident they have located the gray van and its owner. They say that the owner of the van did indeed pick up three men in the Wilder area. And they say although the three men in question may have been acting suspiciously, there was no criminal intent and no risk to the children. As for the gun, police say one subject was simply trying to show another subject one of his newly acquired firearms.
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