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12-year-old says man followed her from Thornton school

THORNTON, Colo. (KDVR) — A scare arose at a local school after a 12-year-old girl said she was followed by a stranger.

This happened on Tuesday, right after class let out at Shadow Ridge Middle School in Thornton.

FOX31 is not identifying the student for her safety but spoke to her parents.

“She normally walks home with a group of kids from school, but that day in particular, she walked home alone,” said Melanie Lovato, her mother.

It was news that greatly disturbed the sixth grader’s parents.

“She noticed a vehicle kind of circling around her, and he approached her, initially tried to get her in the vehicle, and she got scared obviously and kept walking,” Lovato said.

Shadow Ridge Middle School in Thornton
A scare arose at a local school after a 12-year-old girl said she was followed by a stranger. This happened on Tuesday, right after class let out at Shadow Ridge Middle School in Thornton.

The vehicle circled back a second time, but this time the 12-year-old looked for support.

“She saw an elderly man and his daughter walking their dog, so she ran to them to ask for help,” Lovato said.

The good Samaritan walked Lovato’s daughter home and tried to get a picture of the license plate, but it was too late.

“He sped off very quickly. He at least got the description of the vehicle, which was helpful,” she said.

The man who had helped her daughter described the vehicle as a tan Ford Ranger.

It’s not the first time a stranger was reported

What makes the situation more terrifying for the family is it was not the first time this happened in their neighborhood.

“The first time it happened, it was her and another girl her same age. It was around Halloween time, and they were approached with candy. The man showed them a bag of candy and asked them if they wanted candy,” Lovato said. “That time, they screamed really loud and ran back to safety in our neighborhood. That description was a black GMC. It was the only description she could tell us. So she’s very aware of her surroundings. She has her phone accessible when she’s walking so she can call someone immediately.”

Since then, the family started tracking each other’s locations through the Life360 app. The story also was posted on Nextdoor to alert other neighbors about the situation.

“It’s hard to say if they are targeting her specifically or is it just young girls in general. It’s just the question us parents have. It’s scary, but the Nextdoor app was awesome for how many people responded and willing to help and to prevent it from happening to others,” Lovato said.

A parent’s advice to keep kids safe

She has this advice for others.

“Be smart and prepare your children about predators. They are out there. They come in all shapes and sizes,” she said.

The 12-year-old’s parents say they are thankful for the man who helped their daughter, saying he is a guardian angel who was in the right place at the right time.

“It gave me comfort to know there are good people in the world that are willing to help a child,” Lovato said.

They will be now picking up their daughter from school every day.

Lovato said she reported the situation to the school and the Thornton Police Department.

“The first day she was shaken up. It was a rough evening. We kind of talked her through it,” Lovato said. “The school asked if we need any kind of counseling services or help. She’s good, she’s OK, but we had to prepare her for situations like this and how to react to them and seek help.”

What to teach your kids about staying alert

A spokesperson with Thornton police told FOX31 it’s important to note there is safety in numbers. They say it’s always a good idea to have a phone readily available, and it’s a good habit to know exactly where you are to help 911 operators locate you in case of an emergency.

They also say to remember to yell, scream and holler — and loudly. You want to draw attention to the situation and get help fast.

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