Reports of a pair of incidents involving possible child predators in Wauwatosa parks are being taken seriously by Wauwatosa Police.
Report No. 1
The Wauwatosa Police Department became aware of the first incident when they received a call from a resident Monday, July 3 regarding a situation that involved an 8-year-old girl in Jacobus Park, 6501 W. Hillside Lane.
According to Wauwatosa Police Lt. Brian Zalewski, the report said that a suspicious man described as a possibly Hispanic 30-year-old male with dark hair and a mustache approached the girl while she was in the splash pool and asked the girl to go into a bathroom.
The girl ran away and the man left in an unknown direction. By the time police arrived at the park to investigate the report they were unable to find anyone in the area who matched the description.
The investigating officer called the Milwaukee County Parks Department to give a description of the suspicious person.
Zalewski said the parks office said there were not any members of the cleaning staff on hand at that time of the incident.
Report No. 2
The second report of a suspicious person came in at 10:58 a.m. Saturday, July 8 and involved a boy who was walking on a path in a wooded section of Hoyt Park along the Menomonee River Parkway.
According to Zalewski, the boy said he was walking his dog along the path and passed a man that the dog had an interaction with.
The man followed behind the boy about 5 to 10 feet and mumbled something about having something to show the boy and reached out his hand, Zalewski said. At that point the boy ran off with his dog.
Zalewski said there's not currently any evidence of a crime in this incident and it is being treated as a "suspicious circumstance." Zalewski added that police have stepped up their patrols in the area, as is often the case during the summer months.
As of now, police say they do not have any active investigations of any abductions.
Zalewski said police are taking the incidents seriously, which he said they do each time they receive a report of this nature.
Posts go viral
Reports of these incidents blew up on social media when family members and friends of the kids involved in the suspicious circumstances posted about what they believe happened, Zalewski said.
Due to the nature of social media, Zalewski said the perception of the incident involving the boy became different from the account police had received.
Zalewski said it can be problematic when the manner in which people are discussing a situation differs from the report the police have.