ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is investigating reports of suspicious incidents in the area of several school bus stops.
Deputies said they first responded to a report Friday of a white van that followed a 14-year-old girl after she got off her school bus in the area of State Road 16 and Rues Landing Road.
The girl said she was uncomfortable and went to a neighbor's house, where she called her mother. Deputies said the driver of the van made no attempt to make contact with the student, and deputies were not able to locate and verify the driver's identity or intentions.
On Monday, Crookshank Elementary School received a call indicating a white van was circling a bus stop near the outlet mall. Deputies contacted the caller, who said she heard a rumor regarding the incident and did not witness it firsthand.
Detectives said they're currently seeking the source of the information to validate what occurred and garner additional information.
On Tuesday, two elementary-aged girls reported a white van drove past them several times in the area of Pearl and McLaughlin streets. The man who was driving stopped and took photographs of them before driving away.
Deputies said there was no communication with the students and no attempt to contact them.
The students described the van as a white work-styled van with numerous windows and stickers on the back window. They said the van had blue rims, with a dividing gate inside with boxes and work tools in the back of the vehicle.
Channel 4's Vic Micolucci spoke with two of the girls who said they saw the man in his white van and that the encounter made them feel uncomfortable.
"He took a picture of us," said one of the 9-year-old girls who reported the incident. "With an iPhone. He had a black case, and it had a big old Apple on it."
Two 9-year-old cousins told their parents and then St. Johns County deputies that the man in the white van followed them around 8:15 Tuesday morning.
"What was different about this person in his white van, as compared to the other cars that maybe drive by as you are waiting to get on the bus?" Micolucci asked the girls.
"He kept riding past us and stuff," said one of the girls.
"He looked at us in a weird way," said the other girl.
The driver was described as older, with light-colored hair and facial hair.
A father of one of the girls, spoke to News4Jax about the incident Tuesday night.
Andre Williams said he was suspicious about the man in the white van and decided to stop him and ask him some questions.
"About two weeks ago I stopped, went straight to the van and talked to him. He told me he was working in the neighborhood. So I was thinking he was repairing somebody's house. And now that they called me this morning, I know what he was up to," Williams said.
"And you stopped him because you thought that something wasn't right?" asked Micolucci.
"Yes because he came down the street about six or seven times just riding up and down, up and down," said Williams.
Based on the descriptions provided thus far and tips to the Sheriff's Office following news broadcasts of the story, deputies located the van and driver from the incidents. SJCSO Commander Chuck Mulligan said the investigation is ongoing and detectives are looking into whether any criminal activity took place.
"We don't want to create panic. We don't know what this individual's intentions are. But the fact that we have had three separate sets of kids in a similar corridor through St. Johns County reported this van was near them and they all have been uncomfortable, it is certainly something we are looking at," said Mulligan.
Anyone with information regarding the incidents is asked to call the Special Victims Unit at 904-824-8304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tipsters can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 888-277-8477.
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