Edmonton police are investigating after a teenage girl reported being grabbed by a stranger near her school Tuesday.
The 13-year-old was walking on a path near the Mill Creek Ravine at 76 Avenue and 95 Street between 7:45 and 8 a.m., according to police.
EPS said a man came up behind her and grabbed the back of her neck. She was able to get free and she then ran to her school, police said.
The suspect is described as six feet tall, between 30 and 40 years old with dark facial hair and a face tattoo. Police said he was wearing blue jeans and a dark hoodie.
Anyone who was in the area and witnessed the event or saw someone matching the suspect’s description is asked to contact EPS at 780-423-4567. Anonymous tips can be submitted on Crime Stoppers.
Police said the teenager is receiving support from the Zebra Child Protection Centre, a local organization that supports children and youth who have gone through abuse or something traumatic.
Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz said he felt “absolutely horrible” about the attack.
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“This youngster was doing all the right things, we want kids to walk to school, we want them to be active and be out in the community. To hear about someone being grabbed and the fear that causes in the community for all parents, it’s a nightmare,” he said.
Janz said that although these cases are rare they’re still very troubling.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to not go out to the ravine or not go out for a walk this weekend or not let their children walk or bike to school,” he said.
Janz recommended people walk together in groups and look out for the other people in the community.
Maya Badger lives in the area and frequently goes for walks in the ravine.
“Typically this neighbourhood has a lot of people out and about, so for someone to be able to sneak up and grab someone without anyone seeing was really surprising and scary,” she said.
Badger said she would keep walking in the ravine, but plans to meet up with people and pay extra attention to her surroundings.
“If there’s more people out and about, hopefully that creates more safety too,” she said.
Erica Clark, another resident, said she was shocked when she heard about the attack.
“You think that you live in a world that you can send your children walking without problems and this happens,” she said.
She said she lives near the ravine and walks in it often.
“It’s a very busy area, people walk here all the time,” she said.
Clark said it makes her a little worried but she’ll keep taking walks in the ravine, bringing friends along and making sure she has her cellphone.