Reader reports: 2 suspicious sightings, Lincoln Park & Highland Park

We’re not putting these under the Crime Watch label because there’s no proof either person was a criminal or intending to commit a crime. But the two people who sent these reports felt concerned enough to want to share them – a man who approached a child in Lincoln Park last night, and a man who turned up in a stranger’s back yard – read on:

First, the Lincoln Park incident, reported by someone who asked not to be identified:

My family and I were attending an end of the year picnic for my 4-year-old’s preschool. There were approx 75- 100 people, adults and children and it was at the north end of Lincoln park, at the picnic shelter by the wading pool. All the kids were running around having fun.

At approx. 6:15 pm my oldest daughter, who turns eight soon, came up to me and my wife. She had been running around the field with two other girls of the same age and says…”Look what a man gave me” and showed us a Disneyland Keychain in her hand. I said “what man?” and she pointed at a person walking toward the street. I asked my wife if she recognized him, thinking maybe another parent. She said no. I immediately told everyone to stay there and I started walking after him.

From about fifty feet away, I called out “excuse me,” and there was no response. I called out several more times and finally when I was no more than ten feet behind him and yelled “hey,” he finally turned around and said “what do you want?” I said, “My daughter said you just handed her a toy over there, is that true?” he said yes and mumbled something. I asked him if he was attending the picnic or other event at the park, he said no and that he was alone just “walking in the park.” My exact words were….” Are you out of your f***ing mind and what world do you live in?, giving anything to a little girl in a park, do you know how this looks?” I then said…”and where are you going now?, do you have a car here?…he said no car and said he lived a couple blocks away and pointed to the area of the gas station at the north end. He then says “what do you want me to do?”..I told him I would like him to leave the park and that I was prepared to “assist” him with that. He goes “ok, ok” and goes out to the street….and turns RIGHT…SOUTHBOUND towards the ferry dock!!!!! (you said you lived the opposite direction)…I then got out my phone and called 911 as I followed him at a distance as not to alert him. I gave 911 full description as I walked all the way to ferry. Midway, he picked up his pace a bit and I lost sight of him at either the South entrance to park or ferry dock.

2 Police cars arrived at park after about ten minutes and I waved them down. They thanked me for calling and I gave them the following description….adult male, approx 48-55 years old, 5ft 7in or so, slim build, closely shaved head, no facial hair, either middle eastern or eastern european (spoke clear English, but with heavy accent). He was dressed in all black…black dress slacks, black short jacket and shoes and white or off-white buttoned shirt. This CREEP was up to no good and I can easily identify him again if I see him.

Meantime, Jennifer in Highland Park reports an unsettling sighting in her yard, 1200 block of SW Othello (map):

I just want to get the word out to people in my neighborhood that at about 5:30 (Tuesday 5/17), a strange man walked through my backyard, right in front of the back door. The man was white with grey hair, no glasses or facial hair. He had on a white t-shirt with blue and red letters. A moment after he walked by, I checked the backyard but did not see anyone. I can only imagine that he either ran to the front and jumped over the front fence or went to the back of the yard and jumped over the fence back there.

26 Replies to "Reader reports: 2 suspicious sightings, Lincoln Park & Highland Park"

  • Neighbor May 18, 2011 (2:06 pm)

    For all you block watch captains-

    Please forward this story about the Lincoln park incident to your neighbors! Summer is almost here, the kids are going to out and about.

  • westseattleperson May 18, 2011 (3:02 pm)

    Not saying that the Lincoln Park guy isn’t fishy, but we were recently in another country and all sorts of strangers (middle age men, old ladies, etc.) were often giving my kids candy and toys because that’s just what people do. I kept thinking to myself “man people here would FREAK OUT if that were to happen here”.

  • calmex May 18, 2011 (3:09 pm)

    Better safe than sorry. But the Lincoln park incident sounds to me like a little over reacting.

  • bender May 18, 2011 (3:13 pm)

    Is everyone who tries to be nice guilty of something now? Will everyone’s acts of kindness, no matter how innocent, result in being chased down by people?

  • calmex May 18, 2011 (3:32 pm)

    Good point, Bender. I better go get my grumpy hat and put it on just in case.

  • HolyKow May 18, 2011 (3:35 pm)

    Sorry to all of you who think this is just a guy in Lincoln Park, but in this day and age, you do not just go up and give candy or trinkets to little kids playing without parental approval first. You Do.Not.DO.THAT! Any parent worth their salt would see red lights and challenge that person to explain or refrain….

    Keep em close, life is a one shot deal.


  • loonybin May 18, 2011 (3:36 pm)

    Random acts of kindness should not be automatically thought to be a threat but we know the world we live in now a days and if you have children you question everything for their safety, its sad but its true. My question is why did he have a disneyland keychain to give away if he was just strolling thru the park? I don’t know anyone of any culture in any country that just sets out for a walk in a local park to find children to give stuff away to!? Just saying……..

  • anonyme May 18, 2011 (3:55 pm)

    There are a lot of parents near South Seattle Community College who let their kids use the Arboretum as a park (it isn’t). During the summer some kids are left on their own for the entire day, and spend a lot of time in there. This is inappropriate on several levels, but last summer there were several spottings of known sexual predators approaching kids. Parents, please – kids should not be wandering unsupervised in these areas.

  • personwhoactuallyhaskids May 18, 2011 (4:20 pm)

    I’m the person/parent in the Lincoln Park story. I wrote to the blog, not looking for kudos or high fives from anyone, but simply to alert other people and parents about a situation that I found seriously disturbing. I found a couple of the comments surprising and obviously from people who don’t have children.
    Loonybin…..good point, why would he have had a Disneyland keychain….and Holykow…you are SO this day and age, YOU DON”T DO THAT!!
    To anyone who thinks this was over-reacting, I say this…I am not a violent or confrontational person by nature, but when it comes to my children’s safety…I apologize to no one for trying to protect them..or other children for that matter. I would like to be wrong about this individual, but my gut and heart says no!

  • Mn May 18, 2011 (4:47 pm)

    I think Lincoln park guy needs to take a chill pill
    Everyone always assumes the worst over here and I think your manner was rude and confronting
    Sorry just my opinion but sure hope I don’t smile at you accidently one day

  • onceachef May 18, 2011 (5:29 pm)

    It’s certainly a tough call…perhaps this parent (in particular) should have been paying more attention to begin with and the child would not have received the “gift” from the stranger in the first place…it’s also important to teach your kids to say “no thanks” and walk ((or run) away from anyone they don’t know trying to “give” them something. I don’t blame the parent for freaking out…as stated, in this day and age, who knows? But please balance that with your own responsibilities (as a parent) when you go to public places….watch your kids diligently!

  • TMQ May 18, 2011 (5:46 pm)

    Mn, I think there’s a difference between smiling at a man in passing and an adult male stranger giving an 7 year old girl an enticing toy outside the view of her parents in a large park, don’t you? Lincoln Park Dad’s response seemed measured and restrained from my perspective. If there were an innocent explanation, the creep certainly didn’t offer it.

  • Caprial May 18, 2011 (5:52 pm)

    Does anyone think that maybe, just maybe, the man found the keychain as he was walking by and handed it to the girl thinking it may be hers? The parent didn’t ask the girl if he had said anything to her. Obviously the man wasn’t a threat because the parent had to run after him to question him. What would you do if someone was chasing after you, and you thought you had done a good deed?

  • nd May 18, 2011 (5:52 pm)

    Some people automatically assume the worst. Since I wasn’t there, and don’t even have kids, I immediately think of all the *other* things it could have been, like: Guy walking in park finds trinket on ground. Guy gives it to first kid he sees who will appreciate it. Guy feels good about making a kid happy. Guy is from another culture and doesn’t understand our paranoia. Guy doesn’t feel like he should try to explain himself. Guy just wants the angry yelling man to stop.

  • Lynn Gold May 18, 2011 (6:31 pm)

    After reading some of these posts, one can only conclude that there are some seriously negligent parents out there, or some child free people with too much time on their hands. The Dad in Lincoln Park acted with vigilance, integrity and courage in protecting his little girl. For the idiots trying to imply racism or mean spirit-ness on the Dad’s part, I say, shut the hell up. The guy’s SEVEN year old girl was approached by a strange man and given an enticing toy. Did you people never learn about “strangers” with kittens, candy or some other form of child enticement? Good for Lincoln Park Dad! Who knows, he may have saved a kid from being molested or taken away that day. Think about it. The guy sounds heroic to me.

  • TMQ May 18, 2011 (6:32 pm)

    My guess is that the fault line determining perspective in this discussion is whether one is a parent or not, though obviously this is just my guess.

    Caprial, I think you make several assumptions that are a bit of a stretch. The stranger just as easily could have been walking away because he was indeed a threat and left when the girl went to her parents. We do not know whether the parent asked what the stranger said or not, nor do we know whether the father was running, as he did not mention either.

    nd, you are quite right that some of us have assumed the worst, but predation crosses all cultures and eras, even if paranoia does not.

    Onceachef, you may not blame the parent for freaking out, but you blamed him for this happening, which is unfair and uncool.

    My preference is to give the benefit of the doubt to the concerned parent who feared enough to call the police and email the Blog, rather than to a strange man giving toys to 7 year-old girls in the park.

  • Caprial May 18, 2011 (7:38 pm)

    TMQ – exactly my point. We don’t know for sure either side’s intention. The point is that there could have been assumptions on both sides. I do have children, and I believe what I would have done (and have done in similar situations) was to call the police and have them check it out. I would never have followed the guy, asking him questions like “where do you live, do you have a car”…which could also be construed as intimidating behavior.

    Knowing that my child was currently safe, and not wanting myself to be possibly hurt in the process….I would have had the police check it out and I would have kept my distance.

    (Now, if there had been imminent danger, that may be another story..) That is all I am saying.

  • Tbird May 18, 2011 (8:02 pm)

    Perhaps the concerned dad could check the sexual predator website and see if the man who approached his daughter might be profiled? I know they are listed by location with photos. I am one of those paranoid parents who likes to be familiar with the possible threats that surround our home and parks.

  • doc May 18, 2011 (9:21 pm)

    A keychain? Seriously, she is seven and doesn’t even have keys yet. I think a mickey mouse hat would have been far more (in)appropriate.

  • Jessaly May 18, 2011 (9:39 pm)

    As a parent it is your job to protect your child. Sometimes that means it’s your job to overprotect your child. Being sheltered is one thing and being safe is another. Anyone who questions this father’s actions needs to relax a little bit and consider that the bottom line is he did what he felt needed to be done to protect his kid. So good for him.
    When I was eight years old a man tried to lure me into his car with a tiny white kitten. I thank my parents for having taught me about ‘stranger danger’ enough that I was appropriately freaked out and ran inside screaming. When I was seventeen two men in a windowless van tried to physically force me into it while I sat outside a US bank waiting for a friend near SPU. They would have succeeded had it not been for a couple who was walking by about half a block a way and came to my rescue.
    Am I more paranoid now? Maybe. But my children will grow up knowing the difference between ‘kind’ and ‘creepy’, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. And if I ever see someone that I think is behaving suspiciously around them I will be the first one (probably before even my husband) to make it a ‘big deal’. It’s my freaking job.

  • Mn May 18, 2011 (9:41 pm)

    Measured and restrained !!!
    Swearing at someone
    I feel sorry for you

  • CGS May 18, 2011 (10:56 pm)

    I saw this same guy in the same area 2 hours earlier. He was totally creepy, stopping to watch about 5 feet away as I was speaking to my 5 year old son about running off into the forest alone. I love that park so much, I just wish I did not have to be hyper-paranoid about safety when we go to play.

  • Jasperblu May 19, 2011 (8:27 am)

    As the mom of a 5 year old, I’m of the belief that NO adult should ever approach a child to ask for directions, give candy, offer a ride, etc. A mature & well-intentioned adult would always look for another adult to ask for directions, ask an adult if it was ok to give their child a treat, and certainly wouldn’t offer anyone a ride without a parent/guardian having asked them to do so.
    By the way, our children are far more likely to be harmed by someone they know, than by a stranger in the park. I’m also really careful to be sure my kid NEVER wanders off beyond my sightline. Especially on a sunny day when the park is packed with people. We set up an invisible “boundary” that she can’t wander past, and it’s always within my line of vision and hearing. She gets to feel independent, and I get to feel like I’m keeping her safe.
    That said, I think the dad reacted 100% appropriately (profanity use notwithstanding). He didn’t have time to ask his daughter a lot of questions, he was right to let the stranger feel “watched” & it gave him a much better chance of getting accurate identifying details that police need. I may even have gone so far as to enlist other parents in the group to help me DETAIN the guy until police could have arrived. Just saying.
    Adults just can’t approach little kids anymore without being really sure that their good intentions are clearly (verbally) being broadcast simultaneously to the parents of said child. It’s the world we live in. Sad, yes. But that’s how it is. Even I, as a mom, have to be cautious about approaching & talking to other kids when I’m with my own kid at a park, playground, etc. But I respect that & follow the “rules” so that other kids feel safe, not scared.
    As for someone trekking through my backyard unwelcome and unannounced? That might warrant a more intense response… I’m probably going to go bat sh*t crazy on you. And *then* I’ll call police.

  • Yushi May 19, 2011 (8:45 am)

    Was this gentleman in the back yard a fine new denizen of “Nicklesville?”

  • Daddy May 21, 2011 (2:33 am)

    My kids have enough toys and trinkets thank you very much. Keep them for yourself or whatever… But don’t try and give it to my kids. If I want them to have a new toy, I’ll be the one to give it to them. Not some dude at the park they don’t even know. Anyone that thinks different-think again. They’re my kids and I have the right and responsibility to raise them the way I see fit. And anyone intruding on that right-can explain it to me directly. And if you can’t, then explain it to the cops cause next time you might need to explain it to my .40 caliber.

  • Owlish May 22, 2011 (4:38 pm)

    I was at the north end playground today around noon with my son and saw an interaction between a man (same description as this) and a little girl maybe four years old that was not normal and alarmed me. He was not the child’s parent, and I let the child’s Mom know what I saw, and then I took my son to our car and called 9-1-1.

Sorry, comment time is over.