Metro-East News

Police identify ‘person of interest’ in attempted child luring case

Police have identified a “person of interest” who might have attempted to lure three elementary school children to his car last week, according to the police department.

The suspicious man attempted to lure three Abraham Lincoln Elementary School students, all siblings, to his car on Tuesday as they were walking home from school in the 600 block of North 39th St., according to the Belleville Police Department. School officials notified police, who began an investigation, according to a post on social media by the department. Police said “a possible vehicle and person of interest have been identified” in that post.

Detective Sgt. Todd Keilbach said the person in question is not in custody, but said the investigation continues. He declined to identify the person.

The children ran home and told their parents after the man attempted to lure them to his car, and then the man repeatedly drove back and forth erratically in front of their house, according to a letter sent to parents from Belleville School District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman. The children and their family saw the same man again on Wednesday after school, giving them a chance to form a better description of the man, police said.

The district superintendent said there had been no additional reports about the man as of Monday morning. Klosterman said he checked with officials at each of the district’s schools. He again encouraged parents to review safety tips with their children to ensure they travel to and from school safely.

One of the students described the man as white and in his 50s or 60s with gray hair and a mustache, according to the Belleville Police Department. When the man approached the children on Tuesday, he was wearing sunglasses and a hat with a feather in it, the superintendent told parents in the letter. The man reportedly drove an old red and black Chevrolet with an open truck bed and black workbox, according to the letter. Police described the vehicle as a red pickup truck, and say they have identified a possible vehicle.

The police department’s investigation is ongoing.

Safety tips for walking to and from school

  • Always walk with a group or at least one friend
  • Ask your parents to help you pick a safe route to school and always stick to that route
  • If a stranger offers you a ride, say “no” and stay far away from the car
  • Don’t talk to strangers and don’t accept things from strangers
  • If a stranger starts following you, yell for help and run away. If they follow you in a car, go the opposite direction