Waterloo Police Chief Jason Godley says his expects to see stepped up patrols downtown after a pair of suspicious incidents.
The first incident took place on Jan. 11 near the First Dragon Restaurant. A report was made that a male followed a woman and her two children to their vehicle. When the women and her children reached the vehicle, the male placed his hands on one of the children.
The mother intervened in this incident and the male left the scene. An investigation into the incident was completed and the facts of the case were presented to District Attorney Barry Porsch.
As result, Harry W. Ward, 55, of Seneca Falls was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Through speaking with witnesses who interacted with Ward before the incident unfolded, it was believed that he was highly intoxicated.
Although alarming as this incident was, there was no proof that the intention of Ward was to abduct the child involved, according to Chief Godley.
A second incident, which took place on Jan. 15 involved a woman and her child leaving the downtown business district shopping center. As the duo left the Waterloo Mall, a male followed them outside, and proceeded to stand outside their vehicle.
Godley says that just before they pulled away, the unidentified male walked toward another nearby vehicle as if he was going to get inside, but did not. Police say that the woman observed the man walk back into the Waterloo Mall.
“The Waterloo Police Department does not have the information that leads us to believe that we have a male downtown that is actively trying to abduct children,” explained Godley. “However, we encourage all members of our community to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times, especially when accompanied by children. Always report strange occurrences as they are happening from a safe location. As a tip, remember what the suspect was wearing and any other physical descriptors that could be helpful in identifying the suspect. If safe to do so, try to see where the suspect may go but do not follow them.”
Godley also says that the two incidents appear unrelated. He says that anyone with information on either incident should contact Waterloo Police at (315) 539-2022.