Two boys in Orchard Park have been approached by men under suspicious circumstances over the last month, and another man was reported walking near Windom Elementary School with his pants unzipped Thursday, police said, but the town police chief assured that he doesn’t believe any of the unsettling incidents are related.
The first incident occurred at 11 a.m. Feb. 22 on Larned Lane in the village, when an 11-year-old boy delivering newspapers was approached by man in a red minivan who offered him a ride.
The incident was not reported to police for almost 35 hours, Police Chief Mark Pacholec said, at 9:30 p.m. on the next day, when the boy’s parents came to police.
“Once we got out and canvassed the neighbors, we were not sure what we had,” Pacholec said. “It was a bad weather day, and some of the neighbors were also concerned about the paper boy, so because we didn’t have a chance to respond in a timely manner we could not get in the area quickly to locate a vehicle and determine the intent of the driver.
“At this point and without further information, that case is inactive,” said Pacholec.
“We may have just had a concerned person who asked a paperboy if he needed a ride,” he said.
But in the second incident, Pacholec said, “There was inappropriate behavior and criminal intent.”
The second incident happened at 4 p.m. Tuesday when a 16-year-old was walking from Orchard Park High School on Baker Road to a friend’s house on Graystone Lane.
“Somewhere near the intersection of Milestrip and Graystone, he was approached by a four-door gray Pontiac driven by a white male in his 20s or 30s who asked through his opened window if the teen wanted to partake in a sexual act,” Pacholec said.
The vehicle took off quickly, heading east on Milestrip, police said.
“It took off so quickly, we don’t have a plate number,” said Pacholec. “The teen immediately left the area and continued to his friend’s house. We didn’t find out about this until Wednesday, after the 16-year-old told his counselor, who immediately contacted us.
“The untimely reporting is the common thread,” the chief noted. “I can appreciate what happened, but we can’t successfully investigate an incident if it’s not reported in a timely manner. It became problematic for us.”
“We get calls of suspicious persons in vehicles every day,” Pacholec said, “but to have a couple of incidents like this that may be related to inappropriate behavior within a short period is unusual – especially at this time of year when it’s cold.”
Tuesday’s sexual solicitation led Orchard Park School Superintendent Matthew P. McGarrity to issue a letter to parents Thursday informing them of the incident. In addition, all district staff and bus drivers have also been notified.
Pacholec reported receiving tips on Tuesday’s incident from as far away as South Carolina.
Thursday’s incident involved another suspicious person, this time not in a vehicle and not believed related to the first two. At about noon, a female motorist told police she observed a man exposing himself as he walked east on Sheldon Road toward Windom Elementary School wearing pants that were unzipped.
“We sent three cars,” Pacholec said. “Hamburg sent a couple of cars. He was never located. We don’t know what that was – intoxicated, impaired?”
“We have a great working relationship with the school district,” said Pacholec. “One of the things we’re looking at is an initiative to educate children and their parents to report incidents in a timely fashion and to teach them proper responses.”