Police were called to Jefferson Elementary School on Tuesday after four students reported that a man approached them as they were walking to school.
The students told school staff that a man had been watching them. When they passed him, the students said he approached them and tried to grab one child’s backpack, according to a letter Belleville District 118 sent to parents. The letter states that the students ran to school after the incident.
Superintendent Matt Klosterman said in an interview that parents of students at Jefferson Elementary and West Junior High School were notified about the incident.
Belleville Police Department Detective Sgt. Todd Keilbach said Wednesday a person of interest had been identified in the ongoing investigation.
The students described the man as middle-aged black male with black hair and facial hair, according to the district’s letter. He was reportedly dressed in all black, including his coat, shoes and hat.
Klosterman said district staff regularly talk to students about safety when walking to and from school. One rule is to avoid walking alone, he said.
“We’ll have those conversations at school,” Klosterman said.
The letter encouraged parents to review the district’s other “safe street” rules with their children.