The Mesa Police Department is encouraging parents to talk with their children about their safety after investigating two incidents on Wednesday in which young girls were approached or grabbed by strangers.
In the first incident about 4 p.m., two girls, ages 8 and 6, were playing on the monkey bars at the community park in the area of 110th Street and Abilene when one of the girls started walking west toward an alley between the houses leading to another park. The second girl then started to put her shoes on when she noticed a gray/silver car park on the street. She then saw two men start walking toward her location, so she picked up her shoes and ran to the other girl. She told police that when she started to run, one of the men reached out toward her but did not touch her. The two girls ran to another park where teenage boys were playing football, and neither of the men chased after them.
The first suspect in this incident is described as a white male, unknown age (only described as young), skinny, wearing a white shirt with a picture of two guns crossed on the chest, and blue jeans.
The second suspect is a black male, unknown age (also described as young), skinny, wearing a dark colored shirt and blue jeans.
In the second incident about 5:30 p.m., a 14-year-old girl was waiting outside the gym at Mesa High School after basketball practice for her mother to pick her up. A vehicle pulled up and an occupant of the car asked if she wanted a ride. She said no and started to walk away. The male who had addressed her from the car then exited the vehicle and started to chase her. A second suspect then came out from behind the building she was running toward and tried to grab her. She avoided him, but was then caught by the first suspect in a "bear hug." The girl fought back, striking him in the groin and was able to break free, but in the process tore her shirt. She ran to a nearby neighborhood and hid from the suspects.
The vehicle in this incident is described as an older, white 4-door passenger car with a duct-taped passenger side window.
The first suspect is described as a black male, 17-20 years old, 6 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 3 inches tall, 160-180 pounds, with an "afro" style haircut, jeweled necklace, and wearing black clothes.
The second suspect is described as a white male, 15-17 years old, unknown height and weight, with dirty blond hair in a "Justin Beiber" style.
According to a Mesa Police news release, investigators do not have reason to believe these two incidents are connected. But with recent investigations of this type in other parts of the Valley, Mesa Police is urging parents to be mindful of their children's safety, and to take time to talk with their kids about being aware of their surroundings and staying safe.