Warrant issued in Bell School attack

Police issued a warrant today for a man wanted in the assault and attempted abduction of a parent near Bell Elementary School earlier this month.

The suspect, Pablo Crespo Ramirez, is a former resident of the North Center neighborhood where the woman was attacked, police say. They believe he is no longer in the area.

Officer John Willner announced the move today at a meeting of parents and community members at the school. Principal Robert Guercio called the meeting to allow parents to voice their concerns and dispel rumors circulated after the incident. 

“The reality is we had a very serious incident here, and we can’t have misinformation going around,” Guercio says.

Pablo Crespo Ramierez / Chicago Police photo

The woman was attacked at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 in the alley between Bell and Oakley streets near Bell Elementary while walking to a meeting at the school. A man grabbed her by the thighs and attempted to drag her to an unmarked white SUV parked in the alley, Guercio says.

The woman kicked and screamed for help, getting the attention of other parents nearby. The attacker fled, and the victim chased him down the alley, calling out the license plate number of the vehicle he was driving, Guercio says.

The license plate number led directly to the identification of the suspect, police say.

After the incident, numerous rumors circulated around the neighborhood, including one that a child had been abducted. Police, however, said that was not true.  

During the meeting, parents asked questions about the incident and sought safety tips.

They also asked whether the most recent incident was related to other crimes reported in the area prior to Aug. 21, when police issued a community alert. Officer Willner said the department was unable to release information about an ongoing investigation. 

“Once this offender is in custody, we may be able to develop further information that links him to other crimes,” Willner said, “but at this point, we’re not able to say that this is a pattern in any way.”

Stacey Stern, 41, who has two children at Bell, was at the school when the attack happened. She says she’s been impressed by the police presence after the incident.

“They’re on bikes, they’re on cars. They’re throughout the neighborhood. They’re following us home. It’s amazing,” Stern says.

Stern says the incident has been a wake-up call for many families, including hers.

“I’m carrying mace. Got my pepper spray in my purse. And my husband’s walking us to school every morning,” Stern says. 

Police describe Ramirez as about 5-foot-5-inches tall, 140 pounds with a medium complexion, long hair and a mustache. Residents are urged to call 9-1-1 if they see the suspect or have information on his whereabouts.