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Suspicious incidents raise Huerfano law enforcement concerns

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — A series of suspicious incidents in which adults have approached or reportedly said inappropriate things to local children has raised ‘stranger danger’ awareness at both the Walsenburg Police Department and the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office.
The first incident reported to Walsenburg authorities was approximately three months ago when two young girls walking home from school on Kansas Ave. reported that a man in a red car with dark tined windows drove around the block and passed them at least twice before shouting something to them. The incident was reported to police and WPD Officer Joshua Berzanji was assigned to investigate.
“The juveniles in that incident did not hear what the driver yelled at them, but they became frightened and returned home where they reported it to their parents,” Berzanji said in his report.
On October 8, Berzanji received information from a concerned parent who said a suspicious vehicle had followed her daughter and the driver made lewd comments to the girl. The incident took place shortly after 4:30 pm in the area of Stout and Cedar in Walsenburg and the description of the vehicle involved matched the vehicle in the earlier incident.
The girl told her mother the vehicle drove past her and the man driving yelled something she didn’t hear. She told her mother the vehicle circled back, and drove up to her and the driver yelled ‘ hey sexy’ before speeding away.
The vehicle in both cases is described as a red four door car with dark tinted windows. The driver was described in the second incident as possibly being caucasian, in his late 30s or early 40s, with dark brown spikely-styled hair. The man was described as being ‘chunky’ and was wearing a white shirt at the time of the Oct. 8 incident. “I believe that the suspicious party is the same one involved in both incidents,” Berzanji wrote.
On Friday, October 12, the night of the John Mall High School Homecoming and bonfire, another incident occurred near Peakview school. That incident was reported to the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office and was assigned to Detective Sgt. Craig Lessar to investigate.
In this incident a 13-year old male juvenile reported that while waiting to be picked up after the bonfire by his father, he was approached by a male who was driving a larger model red pick up truck. The man allegedly said, ‘hey kid, do you need a ride?” The boy told the man he was waiting for his father to pick him up and the man asked him if he was sure he didn’t need a ride. The boy said he didn’t need a ride and the man drove off.
The boy provided his father and law enforcement of a description of the man; caucasian, with black or brown hair, a five o’ clock shadow complexion and a medium size nose. The boy said the man was wearing dark sunglasses and a baseball cap.
City and county law enforcement officers will be in the Walsenburg, La Veta and Gardner schools next week for the annual Halloween candy give-a-way and Halloween safety presentation, and it is expected officers and deputies will touch on the subject of stranger danger.
All suspicious incidents should be reported to authorities immediately. Call the WPD at 738-1056, the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office at 738-1600 or dial 911.

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