Deputies: No bad intentions in white van incidents
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County deputies said they have interviewed the man who caused a scare after two girls thought he was following her at their St. Johns County bus stops. But deputies don't believe the man committed any crimes or had any bad intentions.
Deputies said Tuesday a man in a white van was spotted near bus stops following children.
They said he took a picture of two elementary school-aged girls on Pearl Street Tuesday morning in West Augustine.
On Friday, a 14-year-old girl reported the same man followed her, making her very uncomfortable. She ran to a friend's ran to a friend's house. And on Tuesday, someone reported a white van near a bus stop by the outlet mall.
Deputies said Wednesday all three incidents were separate and they do not believe that any crimes were committed. They were just a series of two odd incidences.
Deputies said the man from Tuesday's incident was fully cooperative and his story panned out.
"Our babies are our most precious gifts that we've got, and I was very upset yesterday," said grandmother Annie Mae Tucker.
She said she's still concerned about the incident in West Augustine, where her 9-year-old granddaughter and the girl's cousin believed the man in the white van followed them to their bus stop and took a picture of them.
"Immediately after the news broadcasts, we were inundated with tips that were coming in," said Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. "Through our communication center, they were telling us about white vans with blue rims and the stickers and really the identifiers we're looking for. One of those tips led us right to a residence here in St. Johns County."
Deputies said the man, whose name they're not releasing, cooperated. They said he handed over his phone and they found nothing suspicious on it. They said he claims to have been holding it, not taking pictures.
"We contacted him and he was like, 'Yeah, that was me and this is my van,'" Mulligan said.
The family members of the girls and those who live nearby were at the bus stop Wednesday as the kids went to and from school. They said even if this is a false alarm, it's a good wake-up call that everyone needs to be careful.
"We are a family. Everyone out here is a family," Tucker said.
Family members of the girls who reported the incident in West Augustine said they are going to have meetings with the city leaders about getting adults to supervise at each and every bus stop in the area to make sure the children are safe.
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