Parents wary after attack at Northside school

Parents in the North Center neighborhood surrounding Bell Elementary are worried about a recent attack and attempted abduction of a woman near the school.

Police department sketch
“We were shocked. I’m just thinking of worse case scenarios right now. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” said Jenny Flynn, 37, who lives on the 2400 block of Dakin Street, just blocks from the school. She has two children, ages 3 and 7 months.

Police say a man attacked a parent as she walked to school at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 in the alley between Bell and Oakley streets near Bell Elementary. An accomplice was waiting nearby in an unmarked white SUV, according to the school’s website. The woman was able to get away unharmed, school officials say.

She described her assailant as a 5-foot-6-inch tall, 140-pound Hispanic male. He was in his 20s, with a medium complexion, long black hair and a mustache.

Parents, police and school officials are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow in the auditorium of Bell School at 3730. N. Oakley Ave., to learn more about the incident and voice concerns.

Flynn says she and the other parents on her street are changing their routines. She heard about the incident from a neighbor that has two school-age kids at Bell.

“They are old enough to be outside and play by themselves, but she won’t let them now,” Flynn says.

Security measures have been increased, school officials say. Malon Edwards, spokesperson for the Chicago Public Schools says the staff is being stricter about who enters the building.

“They are being more vigilant,” Edwards says. “Teachers and staff are wearing orange vests while outdoors so that students can easily identify them.”

The neighborhood has seen several similar incidents in recent months. On Aug. 21, police put out an alert about an unknown male approaching victims from behind, making unwanted physical contact.

Chicago police could not confirm that the incidents were related. Officer Dan O’Brien, the department spokesman, says the investigations are ongoing. No more details have been released.

A parent told Bell Principal Robert Guercio about the August alert. He then posted it to the school website.