NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Schools Acting Principal Maritsa Alger notified Chesterfield Academy families Wednesday that a student reported being followed Tuesday at dismissal.
In a letter sent home, Alger said the female student reported she was walking home when she believed she was being followed by a white man in a dark hooded sweatshirt.
The student avoided the man by running back to the school, Alger said.
Another student said they witnessed the incident and provided a similar account of what had happened.
Alger requested Norfolk Police patrol the area during the afternoon dismissal period Wednesday.
“I am also asking parents and guardians to talk with their children about what they can do to stay safe. This includes walking to and from school in groups, not accepting anything offered by a stranger and telling school administration immediately when they feel threatened by the presence of another person. Your partnership with the school is all-important in ensuring the safety of our students. As always, thank you for your support,” Alger wrote in the letter.
Norfolk Police confirmed they are investigating the incident, which happened near the intersection of Ballentine Blvd and Victoria Avenue around 3:45 p.m., police said.
“While there was no interaction between the man and the student, police are investigating and patrolling the area as a precautionary measure,” police wrote in a news release.
Reni Gonzales, whose 5-year-old son goes to the school, says he also brought a letter home about the incident.
While she takes her son to and from school, she says she sees young students walking home without an adult frequently.
“You got little kids as small as my kids, they walk in groups of four, they can’t defend themselves. They’re no bigger than me, or you. If a man his size pulls up, what’re those kids going to do? He’s going to snatch whichever one he wants and the other kids are going to run. They can’t defend each other,” said Gonzales.
Police encourage residents to be vigilant and careful.
“Police remind residents of all ages to stay aware of your surroundings, travel with others when possible, let friends and family know where you’re going, and do not focus on electronic devices when walking in public areas,” the release said.
Residents should contact the police immediately if they see suspicious activity and call the non-emergency number at 757-441-5610 or the Norfolk Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.