Man Helps Boy Whose Ball Went Over Fence. Now Police Are Looking for Him


Alexandria, VA: From a country gone crazy with mandemonium (pandemonium sparked by seeing a man near a child) comes this all points bulletin, below. Notice that while “At no time did the unknown man attempt to leave the area with the child,” the police nonetheless give a detailed description of the suspect…er…Samaritan…er…suspect.  And they are looking for leads.

What are they going to charge him with? Attempted kindness? Doesn’t he know better than to act like a decent human being?

Police heharsbnza
Investigate Incident at Lyles-Crouch Elementary School

For Immediate release: May 20, 2015

The Alexandria Police Department is investigating an incident that occurred earlier today involving a six-year-old student at Lyles-Crouch Elementary, 530 S. Saint Asaph Street.

At approximately 10:15 a.m., a male student went to the edge of a fenced playground to retrieve a ball on the other side. The student was approached by an unknown man who lifted him over the fence to retrieve the ball. A teacher saw the child being picked up and challenged the stranger, at which point the man escorted the student to a fence opening to re-enter the playground. The unknown man then left the area. At no time did the unknown man attempt to leave the area with the child.

The man is described as a black male in his 60’s, 6’0” tall, wearing a beige and green shirt and khakis.

The Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident. Anyone with any information is asked to call Detective Alma Zepeda at 703.746.1961.

A man helped a boy get the ball that went over the fence. What a menace to humanity!

A man helped a boy get the ball that went over the fence. What a menace to humanity!


And thanks to Julie Gunlock, author of “From Cupcakes to Chemicals,” for sending this! – L

UPDATE: While we’re at it, this story from just came in. I think you’ll see the connection: 

‘Suspicious’ photographer near kids just doing his job
Some people thought the man with a camera and white SUV, snapping photos near school bus stops in Bucks County, seemed suspicious.
So they called police.
But, it turns out, the mystery photographer wasn’t the predator the concerned callers feared….The man is a property inspector, and was working for banks to report on the status of mortgages….And for future reference: The man told police he generally is in Newtown Township twice a month to take photos of properties there.
A man with a camera? Scarrrrrrrrry!

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101 Responses to Man Helps Boy Whose Ball Went Over Fence. Now Police Are Looking for Him

  1. hineata May 20, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

    No way. This has to be a joke. Please God….

    Though, being black, he’s probably lucky the teacher wasn’t armed…

  2. hineata May 20, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

    Just yesterday I smiled at 2 babies in a hospital. I think that’s the police I hear, busting down my door.

  3. Puzzled May 20, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    It’s worse than mandemonium – it’s black mandemonium. The only thing worse than being a man around a child is being a black man around a child.

    I was really hoping this would be from the Onion.

  4. SKL May 21, 2015 at 12:05 am #

    Sigh ….

  5. marie May 21, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    This is insane. What are we teaching our kids? Imagine being a boy, growing up in a world where they see men treated with suspicion for performing perfectly ordinary courtesies. As for the teacher and the cops teaching our boys by example that men can’t be trusted, that men are naturally perverted monsters…how dare they!

  6. CrazyCatLady May 21, 2015 at 12:12 am #

    Sounds like my town a couple of years ago. Only the other side of the country, sadly. An unknown man talked to some kids at the edge of the playground. The kids, when they went in, told the teacher and police were called. No man was ever found.

    Yet, I think I know what happened. Our charter homeschool type of public school is housed in a church, adjacent to the school where the children talked to the man. The day that this happened was a testing day for the kids in my school. I suspect that the man was actually a father of a kid in my school who was bored and waiting for his kid to get finished testing so they could go home.

    When I got home, FaceBook was alight with people warning of “a strange MAN”. I pointed out the likelyhood he was a dad, and that calmed things somewhat…but the news still put out that the police were looking for this “possible abductor.” Sigh.

  7. I wish to remain anonymous May 21, 2015 at 12:52 am #


  8. KittyKat May 21, 2015 at 12:55 am #

    This is just plain stupid. Someone should teach people some COMMON SENSE!

  9. Emily May 21, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    Are we sure this one isn’t a joke? It has to be a joke.

  10. Eric May 21, 2015 at 2:04 am #

    This is a joke right ????? This is stupid.

  11. Dave B May 21, 2015 at 2:29 am #


    Sadly, if this keeps going common sense in a few years time will be that every body is a danger don’t you know.

    If these ‘protected’ children grow up and never learn another point of view, this will be the common ground: “Every parent and other figures told me anyone is dangerous and little ones must be smothered. And as nothing happend to me and everybody agrees on this, it must be the truth and my kids must be protected some more. Shakled to the radiator in the basement until they are ‘grown up’ and ready for the real world.”

  12. BL May 21, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    “The Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident. Anyone with any information is asked to call Detective Alma Zepeda at 703.746.1961.”

    I have information: anything called ‘Criminal Investigations Sections’ is supposed to confine its attentions to things that are criminal. Which this isn’t.

  13. mer May 21, 2015 at 6:35 am #

    Training all boys to think they should grow up to be Bruce Jenner.
    Everyone that I don’t know is dangerous: how are any of these kids going to grow up and procreate? Its like the religions that practiced celibacy (Shakers): self limiting, guaranteed to die out because they depend on converts instead of growing their own population.

    End result, humanity is doomed. 🙂

  14. Rick May 21, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    No commenter mentioned that the man picked up the kid and lifted himover the fence so he could get the ball. Major faux pas in this day and age. However, if he was in his 60s he wouldn’t have known better. It probably wouldn’t have been a problem if he just threw the ball over the fence.

  15. Ben W May 21, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    Why did he have to lift the boy over the fence? Perhaps he could have thrown the ball over the fence to the boy. Not saying that this was an attempted abduction but this might be a case of a “Samaritan” going above and beyond the call of duty.

  16. Jill May 21, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    It’s not a crime to lift a child over a fence to retrieve a lost ball. Nowhere does the account say that the guy attempted to cart the boy away. There was no need for alarm. I blame the teacher for calling the cops.
    Years ago, there was panic at my son’s school over a report of a naked man in the field behind the school. Cops were called, the school was locked down and everybody was freaking out the NAKED MAN!
    Turned out he was getting off a night shift on his way to his day job and stopped in the field to change his pants. Not naked, only pantless. Just a hard-working immigrant trying to get by.

  17. Michelle May 21, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    I have to admit, I think he was wrong to lift the boy over the fence, and if I were the teacher, I’d have asked him not to do it again. After all, presumably the whole purpose of the fence is to keep the children in during school hours. Besides, tossing the ball over the fence sounds a lot easier than lifting a kid over and then having to walk him around to the gate.

    I’d like to say that calling the police was shockingly absurd, but apparently that’s now what we do anytime a man exists anywhere near an unrelated child.

  18. Jen May 21, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    I thought that too at first. Perhaps he was on the same side of the fence as the boy so he lifted him over.

  19. MichaelF May 21, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    This is exactly why I would not help the lost child I saw at the restaurant on Mother’s Day, I got my sister in law to do it because this would probably be me. Even though the parents never noticed the kid had left the dining room.

  20. Alexandria Police PIO Crystal Nosal May 21, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    As was explained to the person who sent this release to your site, this press release was put out to clearly state the facts of the interaction so that incorrect rumors were not spread through the schools and neighborhood of an “attempted abduction”.
    Alexandria Police Department

  21. Emily May 21, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    First of all, this is insane. Helping someone shouldn’t be a crime, and people shouldn’t automatically be more suspicious of black people, or men, or black men. In fact, I feel a bit guilty sometimes, that I can go to the park and watch the kids play, or even swing on the swings myself if I want to, because I’m white and female, which our society deems “non-threatening” for some reason. I didn’t want to participate in the photo challenge here, because I didn’t think it was fair that I could probably take photos of kids playing in the park, but Warren and the other (few) male FRK members would likely be questioned, as if being male automatically makes someone a pedophile–born with a Y-chromosome, and presumed guilty until proven innocent, from puberty onward. I remember a speech given by the (male) president of the student government when I was in my second year of university, either for International Women’s Day, or some other event we had to raise awareness about violence against women. He said that he was speaking that day not as president, but as a man, and he wanted to stand with the women, in opposition to the violence. Well, now, as a woman, I want to stand with the men, in opposition to the discrimination. I don’t know exactly to do this; I mean, I suppose we could declare a “Men Go To The Park By Themselves Day,” but then parents would just keep their kids inside that day, thereby defeating the purpose. Maybe instead, we could have a “men send in pictures of themselves relating positively with children” day. Those children could be family members, or family friends, or kids they babysit, or know through the YMCA or similar. I think this might change the flawed perception that all men are dangerous.

    Anyway, on a lighter note, this story reminded me of this song:

  22. Powers May 21, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    That’s great, Alexandria Police Dept, but if you’re just putting the facts out, why are the detectives still investigating?

  23. Mike May 21, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    ummm, you don’t pick up strange children… why not just throw the ball over the fence? I generally agree with most of the posts here, but this one would have me suspicious as well. Could care less about the race

  24. Annie May 21, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Can I call the tip line and tell them they’re crazy?

  25. Donna May 21, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    Yes, it is probably not best practices to pick up a child you don’t know and lift them over a fence. However, how many of us actually act in the way that is best practices 100% of the time? How many of us occasionally do something the first way that pops into our head without thinking through every other alternative, weighing the consequences and choosing the best way to do it? How many of us occasionally realize that we just did a really boneheaded thing after we do it?

    We preach here all the time about the fact that parents should not be persecuted for being perfect and then many turn around and want to persecute other people for not being perfect. NOBODY is ever going to be perfect. We are all going to have moments when mistakes happen or we act before we think it through completely or we just view things differently than others. Our imperfections should not involve police interaction unless a crime is actually committed.

  26. oncefallendotcom May 21, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    “The man is described as a black male in his 60’s, 6’0” tall, wearing a beige and green shirt and khakis.”

    I was expecting a Bill Cosby joke somewhere. Y’all are losing your touch.

  27. JJ May 21, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    I love that one of the search terms with which Lenore tagged this article is “khakis”. That is fantastic.

  28. Richard May 21, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Thank you, Emily 🙂 Fortunately at least in our neighborhood there are enough park Dad’s that just being there with the kids isn’t too bad (although I have friends who can’t even do that in peace), but I’d still say that 5-10% of the Moms will give me the stranger-danger look and edge away. You get used to it, but its still annoying.

    I don’t think I’d go as far as MichaelF said (again, this is in central Austin TX so YMMV) about helping kids in a restaurant, but I’d definitely think twice about approaching a kid who looked “lost and confused” in public. I might still do it, but I’d be pretty scared at the same time.

  29. Richard May 21, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    ps – I just noticed that I used an apostrophe to pluralize “dads”. It also appears to be capitalized so maybe it was some weird autocorrect thing, because that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. In case its also the reader’s, I’m sorry! I promise that I know that an apostrophe does *not* mean “Look out! An ‘S’ is coming!”

  30. Warren May 21, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    To all those who are going on about not lifting kids up and over the fence…………..shut up!

    When people have to stop and think about how their act of kindness is going to be perceived, and stop and think about ways to do whatever so that the rest of you are comfortable with it, then the battle is lost.

    And I hate to burst your little bubble’s of perfection and self righteousness, but most men I know would have lifted the kid up. No different than helping a kid get something out of a tree, we would lift them up to get it themselves.

    I think women in general will not be happy untill all interaction between kids and men are eliminated.

  31. Rachel May 21, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Unfortunately I can confirm that this is true. It is so sad that our society cannot understand that most people are good, kind and helpful. I totally agree with Warren:
    When people have to stop and think about how their act of kindness is going to be perceived, and stop and think about ways to do whatever so that the rest of you are comfortable with it, then the battle is lost.

    My daughter goes to this school. 45 minutes before “the incident” I was out for a run. I ran by the school and said hello to MY daughter and a couple of her friends. I was on the other side of the fence. Before coming over to me, my daughter went over to her (substitute) teacher to tell her that I (her mom) was there. She asked permission to come over and say hello. The two teachers on playground duty felt the need to come over to me and request that I go into the school and sign in because I had an interaction with her, and because my friend was with me who is not a parent of the school. For the record, I did not. I am a rule-follower, unless the rules are stupid! It is an urban school. People walk by all the time. Apparently they need 20′ fences (insert sarcasm here) because the kids are apparently not allowed to go within a few feet of the fence, for fear of being abducted I presume.

    As parents, we have taught our daughter that she CAN talk to strangers. We are a Canadian military family and we move around. If we didn’t talk to strangers, we wouldn’t have any friends, and either would our children. She does know not to go off with a stranger and how to respond if (in the highly unlikely event) someone were to try to take her.

  32. Emily May 21, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    mer, being transgender has nothing to do with how we view men today or what it is to be a man.

  33. Nicole May 21, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    This is really very good news for the people of Alexandria because it clearly indicates that there is absolutely no crime whatsoever going on in their town. Surely if there were, the police would be investigating actual crimes instead, right? Since all of these nice detectives are expending such effort on the “Great Ball and Fence Caper” it is obvious to me that Alexandria is the safest city in the western hemisphere (unless you are male and happen to smile at a kid, of course. Then they’re coming for you.).

  34. lollipoplover May 21, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    I seriously loved that this was tagged “khakis”.

    More concerning for safety purposes is the apparent fence opening that this khaki-wearing, ball retrieving, senior citizen apparently knows about. What if word got out of this obvious break in the jail yard? Creepers and boogeymen from all over will find easy pickins to pluck kids off the play yard. White vans everywhere will flock here!

  35. Warren May 21, 2015 at 10:11 am #


    That rule of staying away from the fence immediately brought the image of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, to mind. Where he tests the perimeter within the fence, by tossing his ball out into the forbidden zone.

  36. lollipoplover May 21, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    So the big crime here was “the lift” (which makes me think about the movie Dirty Dancing).
    Many older folks still think kids are capable of fixing their own problems and i could totally see my husband helping a kid solve the very common problem of retrieving a lost ball. But now it get’s “investigated”.

    I hate the hypocritical message we send our children about strangers. Stranger danger! Stay away! and Be kind, don’t judge or discriminate. Which is it?!

    In this article, a young boy talks to a MALE STRANGER who is also homeless but this is good. There’s waffles.

    Kindness is good. Right? Right?!

  37. M May 21, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    Oh lord, I’ve heard it all.

    A grandfatherly man helps a young boy retrieve his ball.

    He is now going to be subject to a police investigation.


    What’s next? Are we going to suspect the boy scout helping the elderly woman across the street of being as a potential rapist? Or will the elderly woman be accused of being a possible pedophile?

  38. mer May 21, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Ahh, Emily, you missed the point. Boys are being taught that men are bad and evil, so if a boy is being taught he shouldn’t grow up as a man, he must then grow up to be a woman no?

    Not being a man, you can never understand the conflict that todays society puts into our heads. Every interaction with a child or female becomes “Oh crap, am I going to get tossed in jail?”.

    The other day I ran to the supermarket, dog in the back. Parked next to a woman with 1-2/3rds kids (boy about 3, she looked about 6 months pregnant). She needed help getting her son out of the cart, so I held it while she lifted, then I went to put it in the corral. Her son wanted to do it, so I waited helped him. We were by my car, so Lily barks at us, he got excited, “doggie, doggie”, so I crouched down, “you want to say hi to Lily?” I then lifted him up so he could pet her, get licked. Then I thought “Oh crap what did I do? ” Then the mom says “Thanks; we lost our dog 2 months ago and he misses her”.

    To me, my actions were completely harmless, all intended to have the boy pet a dog, so why did I have to think “Oh Crap” to myself?

  39. International reader May 21, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    to the comment of M – really interesting out of the box comment. As i grew up (outside of the US) as a child, I was encouraged to help for instance old people or blind people to cross the street. Proactively or reactively. Unrelated to me. ALso perfectly harmless in the context of crossing a busy street on a pedestrian crossing at a traffic light.

    but now, those people, if that honored tradition also exists in the US, will apparently have to choose between risking it alone or risking investigation if not arrest. Especially blind people will have to make sure the age of the helper is accurate, as they cannot judge from the voice.

    But of course.

  40. Anna May 21, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    “No commenter mentioned that the man picked up the kid and lifted himover the fence so he could get the ball. Major faux pas in this day and age.” It might be a faux pas (though I think even that is unfortunate – why must we treat children like nuclear waste – DON’T TOUCH!) but it’s not a crime. I don’t get why the police are allowed to investigate allegations of non-criminal activity.

  41. Ben Carter May 21, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    The reason some schoolgrounds are fenced is to stop kids from leaving.
    Lifting the kid over the fence makes the fence pointless.

    I would have picked up the ball to give it back.

    That said. Since nothing criminal occured, it is still a bad thing to see him hunted like this.

  42. SKL May 21, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    Maybe the kid was already trying to climb over the fence and got stuck, so the guy just helped him finish the job. You know, so the kid could feel a little sense of accomplishment and community.

    There is always the possibility the guy is a perv. The teacher could be a perv. The cop could be a perv. The news reporter could be a perv. You or I could be a perv. These are things to keep in the back of our minds if we have that funny feeling about someone. There’s nothing legal you can do about the fact that someone “might” be a perv.

  43. SKL May 21, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    This is not related to the story, but related to hysteria (in my opinion).

    On an internet forum I frequent, an incident was mentioned. I was wondering what people here think of this.

    I have very few details (as does everyone else commenting on the other site). A teen girl was in the school locker room and took a selfie. (There is no indication that she was unclothed in the photo, that other kids were in the photo, or that she forwarded the photo to anyone.) She was given a 10 day suspension. I thought that was pretty harsh. But everyone else thinks that it is well-deserved (or even too mild), because if this girl isn’t severely punished and made an example, someone could take a nekkid teen photo and forward it and it would go viral and lead to bullying and suicide.

    Yes, that could happen. Yes, it has happened. But is this a logical way to respond to the risk?

  44. Beth May 21, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    ” Before coming over to me, my daughter went over to her (substitute) teacher to tell her that I (her mom) was there. She asked permission to come over and say hello. The two teachers on playground duty felt the need to come over to me and request that I go into the school and sign in because I had an interaction with her”

    I have to say….completely bonkers.

  45. Beth May 21, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    has anyone considered that the older gentleman might not have been able to retrieve the ball and that’s *why* he lifted the kid over the fence? You can have a bad knee or arthritis and be able to lift a child but not be able to crouch down to retrieve a ball.

  46. SAHD Ryan May 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    I live in Northern Virginia and I’m witness to this stuff all the time! I’m ashamed to say the DC area is one giant airport (full of helicopters ) !!!!

  47. Warren May 21, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Here’s a novel idea. Stop treating your students like convicts, and get rid of the fences. The only fences most of our schools have are where school property meets up with private property, such as backyards. They don’t have fences anywhere else.

  48. Cedric May 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Alexandria Police PIO Crystal Nosal – the point that you have so obtusely missed is that IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REPORTED AT ALL much less be a news item of any kind. The neighborhood I grew up in in the 80s, stranger danger and latchkey and all, in Chicago, apparently is peopled full of child molesters, abductors, and no-gooders and malcontents of all sorts. I shudder to think how I ever survived being around people like my grandpa, the ‘go to’ guy in the neighborhood for skinned knees, a flipped bike chain, or how best to launch a model rocket with a payload.

    *SMH* for being a member of the community you are helping to enforce its destruction by posting things like this as an interest item pointing suspicion towards the gentleman in question.

  49. Jill May 21, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    I wonder if the little boy didn’t raise his arms in the universal sign for “lift me up” and that was why the guy hoisted him over the fence. Maybe the kid wanted to retrieve his own ball. There’s nothing wrong with that.
    As an aside, back when I was a municipal reporter on a daily newspaper, I once covered a planning board meeting in which a proposal for a nursing home to be built next to an elementary school was discussed. Two of the board members expressed doubt about the project, saying that the “cranky old people” would be likely to refuse to return any balls that went over the fence from the school playground next door.
    That was before the days of pedophile fever. Now I suppose they’d be worried about the “creepy old men” molesting the children.

  50. Emily May 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    >>I think women in general will not be happy untill all interaction between kids and men are eliminated.<<

    Not me, Warren. I think it's great when men want to do things with children, whether that's through an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters or Boy Scouts, or the YMCA, or a summer camp, et cetera, or if it's just an informal arrangement like babysitting, or even just a man taking his kids, and maybe even his kids' friends, to the park or the swimming pool, or playing in the backyard, or whatever. I think it's especially nice when men are willing to step out of their element, and play with girls–for example, you told us once that you've supervised your daughters' sleepovers on a few occasions, and sometimes that has involved letting the girls give you a makeover with make-up and nail polish, and take pictures, which is a fun experience for a lot of children, simply because men don't often wear make-up. I think it's wonderful when men want to do things like this, and horrible when society squashes that spirit with suspicion and multiple layers of background checks (although, to be fair, our Y here is equally ridiculous that way with both men and women). I think it's horrible when "a man supervising a sleepover" is considered nefarious to the point where advice columnists tell mothers to "tactfully bow out" if they find out that that's going to be the situation. I think this kind of mentality drives a lot of men off of wanting to spend time with children, and that's a shame, because both boys and girls need older male role models, and most men interact differently with children than most women do. For example, I could teach a child how to make a gimp bracelet, or do a cartwheel, but I'd be worse than useless if a group of kids wanted me to play football with them. So, kids need those kinds of interactions, but they aren't getting them, because so many men and teenage boys are getting put off wanting to help.

    As for the ball over the fence scenario, my answer would have been to throw the ball over the fence if I was on the other side, but it appears that the man was on the same side as the boy, so lifting makes sense. I just have to wonder how he got back over the fence on his own, if he needed help getting over the fence to get the ball to begin with.

  51. TwIsTeD May 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    One time when i was little my mom walked with me to the busstop, they freaked out even though i told them she was my mom. They threatened to call the police if she didn’t get away from me.. That was the last time i went to THAT school.

  52. Andy May 21, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Teachers Report that Bill Cosby was seen lifting a little boy over a fence to retrieve a ball. Women must feel safer now.
    There you go oncefallendotcom:. My job is done.

  53. Andy May 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Would there have been an all-points bulletin if the man had been white?

  54. David DeLugas May 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    Timely post, Lenore. Last evening, I was at SportClips getting a haircut. A young boy, elementary school age, was getting his haircut and, as parents tend to do, his mother was discussing with the barber/stylist how to cut his hair. She then sat in the barber chair next to where her son was getting his haircut. Standing there, too, was her daughter, a bit younger, on crutches, and who was a dead-ringer for Natalie Portman in the movie The Professional with Gary Oldman and Jean Reno (the one where she becomes a professional assassin). I DEBATED in my head whether to say something to the mother and, being a man, decided that there was no real benefit to me to do so and being viewed by her as someone about whom to be concerned outweighed what otherwise would have been neighbors (we obviously live in the same area of this suburban county) chatting. Instead, there was continued silence filled only by the sports coming from the TVs. Of course, if I were a woman, I could have made that observation to this mother, she might have smiled and said “thank you” and we could have engaged in some talk while the hair cutting preceded. Alas, only because I am a man, albeit a father of an 8 year-old 2nd grader, something negative could have come from a purely innocent comment. If a woman, I might also have talked about the haircut her son was getting that, instead, I chatted about with the stylist cutting my hair (boys, short or long, let them decide, not the parents, what my weekly haircut was like when I was a young boy).

  55. bob m May 21, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    both on same side of fence

    man lifted boy over fence to retrieve ball

    man was called out for “touching” child, so…

    he had child walk to opening on one side of fence while man on other side.

    clearly he did not want the “risk” of lifting up child again so he walked him to park opening

    man couldn’t throw ball back as ball was on other side of fence

    60+ man climbs fence or lifts child?

    “common” sense tells us he was helpful

    “current” sense tells us he is a predator who needs to be dealt with in harsh terms

  56. Eric S May 21, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Wow. And people wonder why “this world is going to shite”. Because people prefer to concentrate on the negative impacts than the positive ones. Instead of seeing it as a kind elderly gentleman helping out a boy get his ball back (many of us have had people we don’t know help us out as kids, I know I did), people prefer to see it as a stranger who POSSIBLY MIGHT have ill intentions towards the boy, and COULD harm him. So therefore, he is considered an immediate threat. So much that there is an an APB on him.

    Kind of answers the question these same ignorant people have. “Why are so many people disconnected these days”. Duh! Because they don’t want to have to deal with repercussions from ignorant people’s irrational fears towards unknown males around children.

    I hope that these people don’t have to face a day where a stranger could have helped their child, but chose not to because of fear of being persecuted and arrested. In which that child ends up dying. Consequence of actions. Consequence of actions.

  57. JJ May 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    “Sounds like my town a couple of years ago. Only the other side of the country, sadly. An unknown man talked to some kids at the edge of the playground. The kids, when they went in, told the teacher and police were called. No man was ever found.”

    This is getting stranger and stranger. Schoolchildren are part of the community. 6″ man in khakhis and bored father on edge of playground are part of the community. tThey are real human beings standing on either side of a fence or a playground. This isn’t “I see dead people”. Why should they need to act as if one another doesn’t exist?

  58. Mommala May 21, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    This is just disgustingly ridiculous.

  59. Eric S May 21, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Statistically, men and women are about the same when it comes to crimes against children. Kidnappings involve women more than men. I’ve read stats that in cases of male strangers abducting children, was because of a woman. ie. woman they are with wants a child, and gets the man to abduct one.

    Point being, male strangers are getting a very bad wrap these days. And probably because more women tend to speak out against them, for whatever their reason is. One thing is for sure, it’s baseless. No facts, just personal views and fears.

  60. hineata May 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    @Warren – have no idea why this particular school was fenced, but the schools I work in have fences to prevent the autistic “runners’ from escaping. Few middle aged women (as most of us are ) can out run a determined child.

    I have to say, though, any fence low enough that an elderly gentlemen can lift a kid right over it sounds pretty low.

  61. hineata May 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    I wonder that the kids didn’t get together to help the 6 year old over it, as our kids sometimes do with older kids . Off topic slightly, but one boy at our school last year turned up with 2 broken arms. He was playing soccer with his cousins when the ball went over some kind of high fence, and being the youngest, it was deemed that he should be tossed over to retrieve it….quite literally.

    He got time in A@E, his cousins got a special session with their mums and whatever non-threatening bashing tool was at hand! 🙂

  62. Emily Morris May 21, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m sorry, folks, but I have yet to see anything wrong or misguided about lifting up a six-year-old (or really any “junior” age for that matter) to assist with a ball and fence or whatever have you.

  63. Emily Morris May 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    And I know I’ve mentioned it before on this site, but in regards to the fear of men, a bright ray of light is the fact that in my career in Title 1 elementary schools, male teachers are commonly requested with the reasoning being the children of single moms need a positive male role model.

  64. Eliza May 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Not really but sort of related, I have been meaning to mention this for a while now. Very, very different circumstances, but an example of how schools can show students that ‘outsiders’ are also human beings, not just presumed predators. A while back my daughter told me that there was a ruckus in the school that day. Turns out a person unrelated to the (elementary) school wandered into the building and “went to the bathroom” in the middle of the hallway. I asked my daughter “then what happened?!?” She said something like “Mrs. H helped her”. We talked about how it was good Mrs. H helped her. It sounded like the woman really needed help. I don’t think (I guess I don’t know for sure) “authorities” were called. Parents didn’t get a panicked notification of it happening. Teachers didn’t put imagined fears into the kids heads. Instead, the children were shown an example of what it is to be compassionate to another human being. I was very proud of everyone in that situation.

  65. SKL May 21, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    What if the little boy asked the man to help him? Was he supposed to say “no, I could get arrested”? I guess so.

  66. Jana May 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    I hope they will never find him… He could have a sex offender record for life.

  67. JP Merzetti May 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    @ Rachel,

    That’s some wild story within the story!
    Having to sign in to talk to your kid.
    Like you have to do in prison.
    Which sort of lets the cat out of the bag. Schools following the good old incareration industrial model.
    Kids as inmates. Teachers as prison guards. Principals as wardens.

    And yeah, it is a joke – a sick pathetic joke. Kids as toxic waste. Dangerous to come within a mile of.
    Of course the issue was contact. If classmates (knowledgeable within the classroom and during a school year) aren’t allowed to touch each other…….then a stranger as venerable and ancient African American male is beyond the pale.
    What’s a poor cop to do?

    Apparently we think that we’re teaching our kids exactly how to ’embrace’ a brave new future.
    I say craps to that.

    But it’s all about context.
    Sure. I’m in over my head here, and drowning – and I’m shyte outa luck if all that’s available is perfect strangers unto my pore little drowning incorporated self. Shame on me for not bringing my very own personal vetted and state-sanctioned bodyguard/lifeguard to the beach!

    I’d say suspicion directed toward an act of kindness is what it is – and always has been: paranoia.
    And aren’t we become the paranoid little society, scared of its own shadow?
    In Hooliganywood……..we dodge bullets like they’re butter – but can’t get over our own boogey-fantasies.

    It is indeed, an act of moral aggression and bully-mindedness – to create an invisible aura around any child – of viciously applied out of control protective straight-jacketing.
    As if we have completely un-learned how to do this with any normative public decency and accountability.

    Who exactly, are the children, here?
    Thank God I was raised by adults. My whole town was chock full of them. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one. A marvelous time and place. One might think I grew up in Heaven.
    They were simple people. Living in the land of the free and home of the brave.
    And the end result was that I was free…………too.

    By social design, kids don’t have much of a voice around here.
    Neither did I, back then.
    But the symphony of sound my ears used to hear at least had some harmony to it.
    Merry Melodies that made sense.

    (My father could imitate Uncle Remus, perfectly.)

  68. Paula May 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    First off I can’t express how irritating it is that everytime there is an incident race is always considered a factor. It doesn’t matter what age,race, or gender the individual is. Now with that being said I’m sure it was just a harmless act of kindness BUT…why not just hand the boy the ball???? It just looks bad is all I’m saying. He is in a fenced in playground at school. You can’t pick up your own children from school without ID! He should get in trouble, for being stupid.

  69. Nicole May 21, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    We don’t know if the boy was already climbing the fence and the gentleman helped him over so he could get the ball and go back. I am sure a man in his 60’s would have gladly just gotten the ball but some kids (like mine) like to try and climb the fence and then get stuck on it.

    Even if it was the wrong choice it is not criminal!

    I wonder if the man was white if this would be different. My gut says it would have which is a whole different discussion!

  70. Buffy May 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Sorry, but the argument that you can’t pick up your own children from school without ID doesn’t fly. That rule has as little connection with reality as “if you talk to your child on the playground and then continue on you have to check in”.

    And please don’t start in on me about the non-custodial parent issue. Not my problem. If I want my kid to walk or bike. they should be able to do so. And not my problem if I pick my kid up, and on day 30 the same person as on day 1-29 checks my ID. Unbelieveable that that’s considered normal, acceptable, and commonplace.

  71. Puzzled May 21, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    @Paula, ideally, it is true that race is irrelevant. I suspect, though, that people are more suspicious (this holds true, by the way, for observers of all races, from what I’ve seen) of a black man interacting with a child than a white man, and of any man than any woman. Maybe I’m wrong, but it holds true in other areas. See, for instance, the difference in outcomes where people of different races open-carry in jurisdictions where doing so is legal – regardless of your opinion on gun control.

    I also think you’re taking “pick up” a bit too literally. If he picked up the boy in the sense that a parent picks up a child, as in, took him home, then yes, that would be over the line. (As is, by the way, requiring a parent to present ID to pick up their child, in my opinion.) But he didn’t – he picked him up as in momentarily lifted off the ground.

  72. chris canada May 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    Unbelievable. Why don’t do-gooders organize a scrabble club or something…

  73. FreedomForKids May 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    I remember being about six or seven years old (in the sixties) and climbing from a stone wall to the top of a stone pillar which, along with another on the other side flanked the entrance to my neighborhood in New Rochelle, N.Y., right on the Boston Post Road. Well, it was easy getting up but not getting back down. I guess it was obvious I was stuck because a man pulled over, got out of his car and lifted me up and off that pillar and set me down. I think he said a soothing word or two before he did it. I recall being nervous and feeling funny to have a strange man pick me up, but boy was I ever grateful!

  74. Catherine Scott May 21, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    i think a lot of this idiocy stems from a feeling that other people are having fun that we aren’t, you know like being super heroes protecting kids from nameless terrors. We want some of that action!

  75. Emily May 21, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    P.S., When I said I could teach a child to do a cartwheel, I meant that, I, personally, am capable of doing a cartwheel, and teaching a child to do it. However, a lot of summer camps and kid-oriented places banned the practice years ago, unless under the supervision of a trained gymnastics coach.

  76. Diana Green May 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Isn’t Alexandria one of the those ultra-safe super-suburban upscale communities in the high rent district near DC?
    What do you expect? When people pay the big bucks for police protection, the police have to show the tax-payers they are earning their pay.
    Even on a slow day. ESPECIALLY ON A SLOW DAY.

    As crime rates drop, incidents of this nature will rise. No way would anyone suggest cutting the number of government employees who provide valuable public services such as searching high and low for the bogeymen lurking behind every bush just waiting to help a little child retrieve a ball.

  77. Yocheved May 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    Stop the world. I want to get off!


  78. Puzzled May 21, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    In other news, I read an article today about Congressmen not wanting to be alone with female staffers because they’re afraid people will think they’re having an affair. Some offices even have official policies. The point of the article was that staffers advance mostly by having these sorts of confidences – and these staffers can’t even drive the Congressman (alone in a car) or go with them to an event at night (official policy in some offices.) So this ends up costing women promotions and advancement opportunities. Turns out demonizing men and being a culture that’s generally obsessed with other people being obsessed with sex has consequences.

  79. Donald May 22, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    A man touched a child? (Lifting him over the fence) He’s black!? of course he’s guilty! What more evidence do you need?

    Also, a white SUV is almost like a white van. The man had a camera as well. This looks like a job for Amber Alert!

  80. sexhysteria May 22, 2015 at 2:45 am #

    I’m glad to hear that there is so little crime in Alexandria that the police have nothing better to do. Did the teacher mention that she had nothing better to do either than report this ” suspicious incident”?

  81. Maxwell May 22, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    I am not a parent, but cannot wait to be one. I am 18, and my mother, starting from middle school, allowed me to ride the bus. Though my father disagreed, it continued. He was afraid I would be snatched off. It never happened, despite being in a high crime area. I do not consider it neglect, and neither did anyone here in PA. And only an idiot considers such child neglect.

    Now, how does this rant deal with the subject? Today, I believe there is too much hysteria concerning the welfare of the child. Hysteria does not help the child’s welfare. In countries where free-range techniques are more accepted, such as Iceland, they have the same rate of child sexual abuse as other countries. They have the same amount of child molesters as any country. Sure other crime is much lower there, but most of that doesn’t involve kids, but rather drunken idiots getting into fights or driving off…Kids know how to defend themselves if they feel they are allowed to.

    Today, due to my father’s possessiveness, have trouble leaving the house alone. It feels wrong somehow. Wrong to be an adult.

  82. Dhewco May 22, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    Hmmm….I don’t understand why he was on the child side of the fence, if he was an unknown quantity. Did he not have to check in? Where were the monitors when he came on to school property? Or, did he notice the kid at the top of the fence and see him panic…decide to put him on the ground? Once the kid safely made it down, he could realize he was safe and make it back up on down without help.

    If the man was on the side with the children, he should have been known by someone and thus considered safe. (I would have considered him safe anyway, but still kept an eye out. Even grandfathers kidnap…rare but it happens. Once the child was safe and the man moved on, I would have left it alone. No danger, no story there.)

    I have so many questions in this story. Also, I wonder at the student’s race. Not because it matters to me, but because it’s easier to picture the situation. Of course, I’m surprised the Alexandria police didn’t hire a sketch artist and have him/her quiz the kid about what the man looks like.

  83. kate May 22, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    “If this girl isn’t severely punished and made an example, someone could take a nekkid teen photo and forward it and it would go viral and lead to bullying and suicide.” Somehow we have lost all sense of perspective. This is the same thinking that encourages people to call the cops when they see an eight year old waiting in the car by themselves, or a man talks to a child. Infants have died in hot cars, so *obviously* we cannot leave an eight year old in the car on a mild day.

    My husband travels for work, He will often stop to watch a little league game, because he enjoys watching the kids play, especially if they are little. If we see a toddler in public he will often engage the child in silliness. (our kids claim to be too old for that kind of stuff. I am glad to live in a part of the country where this is still seen as friendly behavior, not criminal. On a walk in a Florida neighborhood, he was admonished for walking too close to an elementary school. I couldn’t live in a place where this was considered inappropriate.

  84. E May 22, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    So the police had to put out a statement because the parents were rumor mongering an “attempted abduction”. While their response still includes that the investigation is ongoing, it makes much more sense why the issued the statement at all.

    Perhaps they just want to ask “why didn’t you just send the ball back over” or “why were you on the side of the fence with the kid” (as has been asked here) which seems like overkill at this point, but at least they are getting the information out, that it was related to the retrieval of a ball, rather than an “attempted abduction”.

    I’d be curious to know if the person who sent this to Lenore had the reply from the PIO and didn’t include it?

  85. Dhewco May 22, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    kate, I am like your husband. I love watching little leaguers play. There’s something about the joy in their faces when they make the play that seems lost in watching adults. Adults usually have pride in their faces way more than joy, at least to me. Not saying adults aren’t happy or pleased, but joy is something different (again, to me). I’ve resigned myself to watching the little league world series, because I’m terrified that some parent will wonder if I’m singling out their kid. I have no kids of my own, my sister’s school-age kids are autistic, and my ex-gf’s kids are too old. I have no friends close enough to go watch their kids. (I don’t make friends easily, bit of a hermit at times, lol)

    It makes me miserable that we live in a world where a single adult male can’t be involved with kids just because he enjoys it, finds it fun and fulfilling, or is lonely. That person is seen as strange and messed up, a danger.

  86. bob m May 22, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    look at school on Google Earth

    it appears that the playground is NOT private property – at least not in sense where it is completely fenced/walled off from neighborhood – , so does not appear to be a case where this helpful man was trespassing. Fence is not around entire area. There are benches associated with type seen in parks, plus it appears this playground area is frequently used by residents to cut thru to adjoining streets (based on its layout)

  87. Barry Lederman May 22, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    Where I live (San Diego) there is a sign on the outside of the fence by the elementary school asking adults not to interact with the children. Kind of reminds me of a Do Not Feed The Animals sign at a zoo.

  88. Papilio May 22, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Investigate? What’s there to investigate?
    I assume the man and the boy were on the same side of the fence and only discovered the opening after the boy was already on the other side.

    “I seriously loved that this was tagged “khakis”.”
    Lenore tags in mysterious ways 😀 (Seriously! Once she had this VERY long tag, which later turned out to be the first paragraph of the next post…) Also makes you wonder what fashion-obsessed nut would ever search this site for posts about people wearing khakhis!

  89. baby-paramedic May 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Damn, when I get back home the police will be waiting for me!
    Our house basically borders onto two primary schools, I am forever retrieving lost balls for children, either in our yard or out on the street,
    Although I am mean, the super fun bouncy balls tend to stay “lost” if they came over the fence, they are just too much fun! (and aren’t good for me randomly chucking them over the fence after I get home from work, too much bounce).

  90. xnexus May 22, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    I think we should thank Crystal Nosal for actually coming here to explain. I agree this is ridiculous, but if you read her comment, I’m betting that the police actually see this the same way we do. I’m also betting that, unfortunately, once something is reported to the police, their policies say they can’t simply drop it, and that they need to look into the matter. It’s the fact the police were called in the first place that’s idiotic.

  91. Warren May 22, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    You are wrong. The police have no obligation to investigate anything in this matter. No laws were even close to being broken. Actually the police have no right to investigate this man for anything. The police are not their to investigate everytime someone does something that someone else doesn’t like.

  92. Leonard Ewy May 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    I cringe to think of how many times I have casually helped a kid. I have even helped kids who have tripped and fallen on the sidewalk and assisted them to their feet. With this admission should I be awaiting the police to arrive at my door?

  93. Puzzled May 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    Xnexus – so are you saying that I can flag down a cop and say “that person is breathing” and they’d be required to investigate? Because that’s basically what we have here – a report of an activity that is not a crime, doesn’t look like a crime, has nothing to do with a crime – and you’re claiming for some reason they have to investigate.

    I’d understand if I told a cop “that guy tried to kill me” he’d be expected to investigate, even if I’m obviously lying. But that’s different from when the report itself doesn’t even reference a crime.

    Of course, I’m relying on an intuition that comes from a world where search and seizure based on mistake of fact was deemed constitutional, but not based on mistake of law – that is, before Heien. Now, maybe my intuition is all screwed up.

  94. pentamom May 23, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    So someone lifting a kid up over a fence *might* be a precursor to some kind of assault on the kid? And therefore, the police and general public are justified in treating it as an actual precursor?

    That makes about as much sense as arresting someone for buying a bandana, because, you know, someone buying a bandana might be intending to use it to cover his face in a bank robbery. Sure, he might just be buying it for an innocuous reason, but there have just been too many banks robbed, and you can never be too careful.

    Neither helping a kid over a fence nor buying a bandana is illegal, therefore there is no justification for acting as though a crime has been, or is even about to be, committed.

  95. Andre L. May 24, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    I think it is generally not a good idea to physically (emphasis on physically) interact with stranger children that, like the one of this case, are not your relatives, or under you care somehow (daycare, church group, sports training etc). It is just a matter of general respect for personal boundaries.

    Doesn’t mean, at all, though, that this is something for the police to investigate.

    I’d not like strangers physically handling my children when I have them, if they don’t have a personal (family) or professional (teachers, swim coaches, doctors etc) reason to do so. But not all unwarranted physical interaction is a precursor to bad and evil things. Some adults just don’t get it. I’m obviously not even considering the issue of “inappropriate sexualized touching” which is an entirely different manner.

    So, no, I will not teach my children not to talk to strangers, or fear them all, but I will teach them not to let other adults touch them unless they are hurt or in an emergency.

  96. Warren May 24, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    Andre L,

    We are talking about lending a hand to a child, not just walking up and hugging them.

    The same people, and mostly moms that are screaming for this man to be investigated, would be the first ones to pick up our kids, lift them up on the playground equipment when we just told them they could climb up themselves.

    Your idea that it is not a generally good idea to physically interact with other’s kids is part of the bigger problem with today’s society.

  97. Puzzled May 24, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Well, I just read about a person who was searched, and had $60 (what he had on him) “civilly seized” because he had purchased a whole sleeping car on train, so I guess buying legal things is a perfectly good reason to investigate someone now.

    Andre – what personal boundaries are violated if the child doesn’t have a problem with being lifted up? I don’t think anyone would be quick to say “that’s great” to an adult picking up a child who is saying not to. This wasn’t some sort of non-consensual picking up. From what you say right after, it sounds like you somehow think it’s about the parents’ personal boundaries – those haven’t been violated either, since no one picked them up. When you let your child into the world, one of the things that may happen is the child having a different threshold for personal space than you do. That doesn’t violate anyone’s boundaries.

  98. james g May 27, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    More stupid liberal thinking…. This is just the beginning of it all. Give it 20 yrs and liberals will make it so that if you even look in the direction of ANYONE else, you will be tackled, tried and hung all the same day…
    Stupid people.

  99. Eric S May 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    I wonder what would happen if everyone played into other people’s fears, paranoia and sanctimony. Every time we see a child in distress, we will ignore. And if people start bitching about how “no one cares”, we say, “well, we would’ve helped, but considering people who are good samaritans seem to be getting busted by cops or CPS, and have to go through a whole bunch of legal b.s., it wasn’t worth mine or my own families time.”

    Really, if its a case of helping a total stranger, and keeping the well being and privacy of my family intact. I’m choosing my own family. There are ALWAYS consequences for people’s actions. People ignoring other people’s plights to avoid any litigation, are one of them. What’s the point in trying to help, only to get into trouble by authorities, because some parents or people would rather chastise someone they don’t know, than appreciate the kindness they would have given. They should be happy that there are still good people out there looking out for their kids when they aren’t around.

  100. Eric S May 27, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    @Puzzled. That is a totally different issue. Check this article out. This has actually been known for years, it’s just now coming out publicly.

    @Andre L. I personally don’t see anything wrong with having physical contact with a child that isn’t yours. But, it all depends on the context of course. Obviously, inappropriate touching is not even on the radar. But giving a kid a high five because you noticed them doing something pretty smart or cool, is not an issue for me. Had this kid been mine, and I saw this happening, I would wait to see how it played out. I’d like to think I’m a pretty good judge of character. So if a 60 year old man in an open area, helps my boy get his ball, and makes sure he gets back in, I have no problem with that. I would then talk to my kid afterwards about what had happened, you know make it an opportunity as a life lesson. Find out how he felt about it, what made him trust the man, and that I was proud of him. Of course, I would have already taught him the do’s and don’ts when it comes to contact with people he doesn’t know. So I would have trust in him already. And IF, huge IF, the man did try to run off with my kid, if my boy didn’t already protect himself, I’m sure I can out run a 60 year old man. That I’d be able to catch and detain him. 😉 And yes, I have one. And yes, he gets high fives from people he doesn’t know. Cuz he’s that awesome. And yes, I’ve given my share of high fives to random kids that impress me. Most parents don’t seem to mind, but I do sense a little bit of apprehension. Which is fine, as long as they don’t act on it prematurely.

    Children maybe just children, but they are still people too. They understand and they learn, quickly. Lead by example. So if you would never shake a strangers hand, then by all means teach your children not to have physical contact with people that don’t know. Remember, context. A friendly gesture, like helping a kid over fense to get his ball, is really no different than helping him if he was hurt. A good deed is a good deed.

  101. Sarah J June 2, 2015 at 2:10 am #

    I have a dog that gets out of the yard once in a while, and I have to go around the neighborhood looking for her and asking people if they’ve seen her. (often I’ll have to ask for assistance to catch her, too. She’ll run from me cause she knows I’ll bring her home, but she’ll gladly approach a stranger offering attention and pets) I’m always paranoid that someone is gonna get on my case for asking a kid. (you know, cause the stereotypical child abductor sometimes asks for help finding his puppy) I probably don’t have to worry about it cause I’m a chick, but with people these days, ya never know.