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Parents Warned of Suspicious Activity Around Stewart Middle School

Stewart Middle School principal Martina Walls sent a notice home to parents after she was notified of a series of police incidents involving suspicious persons in the area of the school.

Some parents in the Norristown area were alarmed recently when students at Stewart Middle School brought home a note from principal Martina Wells, informing them of "suspicious vehicles" seen in the area of the school on Monday, Oct. 8.

The note, which was also posted to the school's website, read as follows:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

On Monday, October 8, 2012, it was reported by the Norristown Police Department that at approximately 3:10 PM there were suspicious vehicles located in the vicinity of Oakwood Street, Selma Street, Hamilton Street and Marshall Street. Parents are asked to please remind students not to approach any strange cars and not to talk with strangers. Students are asked to report any incidents to adults.

Thank you for your cooperation. Please feel free to contact me if there are questions at 610-275-6870.

Ms. Martina Walls

Principal

According to Walls, she was notified of the incidents reported to the police by the school's resource officer and felt compelled to use the opportunity to encourage parents to talk to their children about personal safety.

"I just wanted my parents to have a talk with their kids," said Walls. "'There's this [suspicious] activity going on. Please talk to your kids.' That's what that letter was about."

Walls said she informed Marshall Street Elementary School and Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy about the incidents and shared her letter with the schools. She also spoke with Norristown Area School District Superintendent Dr. Janet Samuels who agreed Walls should notify parents.

"We both agreed it was in our best interests to have parents talk [to their kids]," said Walls. "[Stewart is] a walking school and my sports teams walk late at night. That's why. I didn't want to create a whole crazy community [scare]."

"We try to be proactive and just put something out to our families," said Dr. Samuels when asked for a comment on the letter.

But parents who contacted Norristown Patch were concerned that only Stewart and Eisenhower parents were contacted about the matter. A parent of two Marshall Street Elementary students said she received no notice from her children's school. It's unclear if any other schools issued notices about the incidents.

According to reports from the Norristown Police Department, there were three incidents in the vicinity of Stewart Middle School involving suspicious activity around school-aged children between Friday, Oct. 5 and Monday, Oct. 8.

  • On Friday, Oct. 5, between 3:10 and 3:20 p.m., a 12-year-old girl was walking home from Stewart Middle School when she was reportedly propositioned by a white male described as being between 20- and 30-years-old, wearing a white t-shirt and sitting in a silver car at the intersection of Stanbridge and Airy streets. The man reportedly asked the young girl, "Do you want to have sex?" The girl replied "No!" and reportedly ran off. She alerted her mother who then reported the incident to police. 
  • On Monday, Oct. 8, at approximately 5:56 p.m., officers responded to the area of Oakwood Avenue and Selma Street for a report of a suspicious male sitting in his car for a prolonged period of time in an area where children were playing. Officers questioned the man, a 53-year-old white man who is not a resident of the area and the man reportedly seemed nervous. The man could not provide a legitimate reason for being in the area and while questioning him, police noted a number of knives in and around the car's center console, seats and floor. The man also reportedly had a pink vibrator sticking out of his pocket. The man reportedly told police he "had a lot of issues" and wished to talk to someone about them. Police transported the man to Building 50 for evaluation. He is being charged with disorderly conduct.
  • On Monday, Oct. 8, at approximately 3:10 p.m., a 15-year old girl was coming home from school in the 600 block of Hamilton Street and encountered a black male described as being in his twenties sitting in a parked silver car with tinted windows. The man reportedly honked his car horn, but the young lady did not respond. As she reached the passenger side window, the window was lowered and the man allegedly called out, "I'm here to pick someone up. I'll be back for you later." The young girl reportedly ran away and called her grandmother, who came to pick her up and took her to the police station to file a report.  

While none of the incidents involved an attempted abduction, school officials said they felt it was important to alert parents to the suspicious activity in the area of the school and are encouraging parents to speak with their children about the dangers of talking to strangers.

Anyone with information about any of the above incidents should contact the Norristown Police Department at 610-270-0977.

NorristownBornAndRaised October 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Wasn't there also an issue not too long ago of a couple sitting In a car taking photos of young children playing around that area?
James Myers (Editor) October 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Yes, back in early September a couple was arrested around West Main and Noble streets. Details here: http://norristown.patch.com/articles/couple-arrested-for-allegedly-trying-to-lure-children-in-norristown
Antonio r. yarbough October 12, 2012 at 03:35 PM
thats why we end up in jail 1 day i was defending my children against a man named frank frances he suspiciously kept stoping at my home adressing my 2 daughters at first i payed it no mind til he became a lil strange making it a habit i said can you stay away from my daughters he attacked me he ended up with a few stitches in the hand and i ended up with an assult case compliments of norristowns police the case is over and they still got me on a list with an untrue warrent i blame the police in the area for thier tactics ...i dont care about slandering thier name they do mines so....
Chris October 12, 2012 at 04:28 PM
If you see something that appears to be be the last bit suspicious, call 911! Stop the violence, break the silence!
Dee October 12, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I would like to know why Marshall St. Elementary parents were not notified also? I have a 6 year old child that I allow to play outside with her friends. I live on the 600 block of Hamilton were one of these incidents occured. If i did not have the Patch on e-mail, I never would have known about these events.I actually was stopped a few weeks back by a man in a car as I was getting home from work. He asked if I lived there and if he could have my number. As I tried politliey to tell him "NO" and to keep going,he reversed to keep speaking to me as I was crossing the street. I then waited until he pulled away to go to my home, as I did not want him to see which house was mine. Now, thanks to patch I am aware that that has not been the only incident in the area and I can watch my daughter more closely. I am a bit upset with the school!!
Sue Scott October 13, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I have two children at Marshall Street and am very disappointed that I had to learn about this online rather than the school! Thank you Patch for your great reporting. We'll be talking to our kids again tonight about stranger danger!
Tara October 13, 2012 at 02:42 AM
My daughter goes to Eisenhower middle school and they never send or even said anything to my child or myself about this i was just told about this matter
jxjipper October 15, 2012 at 03:06 AM
don't ever expect the NASD to do things the right way. That would be at odds with their apparent mission to graduate illiterate people every year.
Nancy De Kok December 04, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Why was St. Francis of ASsisi school not notified!? They are a school in this area as well!!
Sparkling Cyanide December 13, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I think everyone in the neighborhood should be notified. My 18 yr old is in college but could pass as a 15 year old. I will have to tell her about this and let her know at all times be aware of her surroundings. I don't play when it comes to my kids. I am worse than a hen with chickens.

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