February 21, 2018 11:29 am
Update: Yesterday (Tuesday, 2/20), after helping a detective create a composite sketch of a possible suspect, the 13-year-old girl who reported a possible abduction attempt admitted she made up the story of a male attempting to force her inside a white van in Deltona. She will be charged with filing a false police report. The case she reported is the second item listed in the original news release below. The other two incidents listed below remain under investigation with no new findings to report at this time.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office will continue to thoroughly investigate all reports of suspicious activity, but false reports consume valuable resources that should be devoted to solving real crimes. Any person who makes a false report to the Sheriff’s Office may face the appropriate criminal charges.
Original news release (Friday, Feb. 16):
VCSO INVESTIGATING SUSPICIOUS INCIDENTS INVOLVING STRANGERS APPROACHING STUDENTS
Sheriff’s deputies are investigating reports of three separate incidents involving strangers approaching students Thursday. In two cases, students reported being grabbed by an adult male but the students broke free. In the third case, a student reported being followed by an unknown male while walking to and from her school bus stop in Deltona.
Though no suspects have been identified, the Sheriff’s Office takes every suspicious incident seriously and continues to investigate all three incidents by talking to witnesses and looking for surveillance video to assist in the investigation. While the circumstances in each case have not been confirmed, here’s what we know based on the accounts of the children:
- An 11-year-old safety patrol officer at Osteen Elementary reported walking to his patrol post about 7:30 a.m. when he was approached by an unknown white male who grabbed him by his patrol belt. The child said he broke free from the male’s grasp and fled to report the incident to school staff. The boy observed the suspect near a black pickup, possibly a Ford four-door.
Suspect description: White male wearing a black hoodie; tall with a thin build; tattoo of an eagle head on his right index finger above the knuckle.
A 13-year-old Galaxy Middle School student reported an unknown male grabbed her and attempted to shove her into a white van at the intersection of East Dana Drive and Florida Drive in Deltona. The girl had been dropped off by her school bus and was walking along East Dana Drive and listening to music with ear buds in her ears. The girl told deputies she was suddenly grabbed from behind. The victim said she started to kick, punch and scream for help. The man let go of her when an unknown female in a red passenger car pulled up in her vehicle and yelled at the male to stop. The suspect let go and fled in the white van, she said. She ran to a nearby church, Deltona Lakes Baptist and called her mom to report the incident.
Suspect description: White male, thin, tall, short hair with a brown scruffy beard. No markings or tag available for the white van.
- A 12-year-old girl told deputies she was followed by an unknown male while walking to her bus stop at East Normandy Boulevard and Troy Avenue in Deltona. At 7:55 a.m., she walked to the bus stop and heard footsteps behind her and saw the adult male walking behind her. He had disappeared when she got to the bus stop. She sat down to text her mother and observed the same man looking at her in a parking lot across the street at 1045 E. Normandy Blvd. The man left the area when other students arrived, she said. In the afternoon while walking home, she heard a noise and saw a male matching the same description behind a house under construction near East Normandy and Troy. She continued walking and no longer saw the male. Her mother drove around the area with the victim and they were not able to find the male.
Suspect description: Black or Hispanic male, 30-40 years old, wearing a black hoodie, gray sweat pants and black shoes.
Here are some reminders to help students stay safe and help law enforcement if something suspicious happens:
- Whenever possible, walk with other students in groups.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times: Make sure you know who and what is around you.
- If something happens, the sooner you report it to us, the quicker we can investigate the incident.
- Help deputies by being observant: Be able to describe the suspect’s face, unusual characteristics, body build, height, and the vehicle if there is one.
If you see something suspicious, call 911. Keeping our community safe is the top priority for the Sheriff’s Office.