Community Post

Suspicious Circumstance:!3{2}A Personal Report

Something really weird and creepy happened today, and I thought I’d share it both as a personal outlet and a warning to others.

Today at around 3pm I was throwing the frisbee for the dog on a little patch of city grass near the Medgar Evers pool (yes, in violation of city ordinance, but we have a well-known shortage of dog parks in the neighborhood, so we all have to make do).   After a few throws, I suddenly noticed someone walking right towards me, up the hill in a determined fashion.  It was the kind of purposeful gait that gave me an initial fear that it was an animal control officer who was going to give me a $150 ticket, but the lack of uniform made that unlikely once I had processed the complete image.   I offered my typical “how’s it going” and didn’t get a response.  

He continued up and stood about 5 feet away as I threw the frisbee, not saying anything.  I let my guard down a bit then, as I began to think that he was maybe just a dog lover (the frisbee show does draw the occasional spectator).  He was very ordinary in appearance, a white guy about 35-45, average height, medium build, looking well dressed for a Sunday afternoon in tan corduroy slacks, a nice shirt, and sunglasses that had a light blue tint. His hair was shaved pretty close, but you could tell it would be very thin or balding if it was grown out.  He was carrying a big ring of keys with a mini bottle-opener in one hand.

After a minute or so standing there throwing the frisbee with my bad feelings returning, I offered a parting “I think the dog’s getting tired.  Have a good day.” I put the dog back on the leash, and started to exit stage left.   He immediately started to follow me, and I compensated by going to the right instead.  But he changed direction as well, following me back down to the sidewalk on 23rd.   I walked briskly for about 20 feet but still felt him getting closer, practically right on my heels.  So I stopped, turned, looked him in the eye, and told him to go ahead.   He did, crossing Cherry as the light was turning, where he waved down a #48 bus that was heading north.  He started to get on the bus, but suddenly stopped, looked back at me, and then ran against the light across 23rd.

As I waited on the opposite corner, trying to figure out what to do, I saw him try the handle of a car that obviously didn’t belong to him.  He then stood there nervously for about 30 seconds before walking slowly westbound on Cherry.   Thinking the episode was over, I crossed Cherry and started towards home.   But I hadn’t walked more than 50 feet when I looked back and saw the dude turning the corner, following me again.   I stopped, turned, and let him pass.   

Once he had walked about a couple houses up the block, I turned around and started to go the opposite direction, eventually heading westbound on Cherry.   As I got to the next corner at 22nd, I turned around again and saw the man running towards me.  He caught up quickly and I stood my ground and said, in as stern and no-nonsense voice as I could muster, “I need you to stop following me right now”.

For the first time he responded verbally, with a simple “Oh, OK.”  He then turned around and went back down Cherry to the east.  I waited a bit to make sure he was gone, then walked the couple blocks back home, looking over my shoulder the entire way.

Once home I called 911 and told the operator the whole story.  She said they’d send a patrol car out to do an area check, which they did about 45 minutes later according to our scanner recordings.   

Although the man had some obvious mental issues, I still don’t know what his intent was.  Maybe he was looking for a date and somehow thought I would be into that, and that he could somehow sell me with his creepy quiet stalking behavior.  But I guess it’s more likely that he was suffering from some sort of schizophrenic delusion that I had randomly become a part of.

But in any case, keep your eyes open and be careful out there.  And definitely call 911 if you ever run into a similar situation.

0 thoughts on “Suspicious Circumstance:!3{2}A Personal Report

  1. Sorry that happened to you. I’m impressed that you turned around and talked to him. Once, when I was in grad school in Philly, I realized that two guys were obviously following me as I was walking home at night, and I ended up turning a corner and literally sprinting the remaining two blocks to my apartment.

  2. Ooh, that’s creepy. In other news, Saturday I was riding home to Judkins from Capitol Hill on the 4 and the driver let me on for free. I thought I was just lucky until I saw a puddle of crimson blood making its way down the aisle… There was a lot of it, too. Aie.

  3. Glad it turned out okay for you. It serves as a reminder to be aware & look people in the eye to acknowledge their presence. You got a good description, especially considering how disconcerting this must have been.

  4. Sorry to hear about your experience Scott. Sounds really nerve racking. Keep a cell phone handy and give the cops a call while you stare him down. I think he’ll get the message pretty quickly.

  5. Yes, a cell phone and pepper spray is essential these days but it does not match the strong body language you gave Scott.

  6. What’s the driver doing letting anyone, paying or not, onto a bus with “a lot of” blood on the floor? I can’t believe this is Metro policy… yeesh.

  7. I’m not sure whipping out a shiny iPhone will usually help diffuse these situations. But as I was writing this, I was regretful that I hadn’t used it to snap a helpful photo.

  8. Wow, that’s remarkably similar to something that happened to me recently in Volunteer Park. I was walking my dog in the late morning, when this guy came striding across the field directly towards me. There was no one or nothing else around, so it was clear he was coming to me. I decided to hold my ground. He stopped about 10 feet away and I gave him a quick “hey what’s up.” He nodded but didn’t say anything, just sort of stood there. I then walked away, and he drifted behind me for about 100 feet, then turned around and left.

    It occurred to me given the location that I was being cruised, but I’ve been cruised before and the vibe this time felt different.

    I’m guessing both of these guys were psycho closet cases.

  9. I had a similar experience recently near the arboretum – I’m not sure it was the same guy – This guy was 45-55, gray short hair, balding on top. dressed in tan khaki’s a button down shirt and a nylon (members only-type) jacket, white tennis shoes. He seemed relatively put together… he didn’t seem homeless or anything. I was walking in the arboretum, & had just crossed the footbridge heading west, away from the park. I saw this guy approaching from my left on the dirt path. We made eye contact but I didn’t think much of it. Just thought he was a guy walking in the park. Then I saw him disappear momentarily behind a redwood and stop. I could see him from the knee down standing behind the foliage as if he were hiding. It immediately made me pause. I took out my phone, dialed 911, but did not hit send, then proceeded forward. Right as I crossed his path, he stepped out from behind the tree and approached me (also with a “purposeful gait”). He started to say something about “walking in the woods” as he approached but I was so freaked out that I put my hand in front of me and asked him to step back. Then I asked him if he needed some help or he was lost. He said, no, but then started towards me again, in a very aggressive way. I just put my hand out in front of me and yelled at him “stop – go that way – You are freaking me out!”

    He said -“oh ok” and turned north and walked away. I walked about a block more east, then turned left and headed up the street, I turned around after about 15 seconds to be sure he wasn’t following me – he was not but he had circled back and was just standing on the corner watching me walk away. I yelled “move on buddy or I’ll call the cops” and motioned for him to go away. He turned around and disappeared around the corner.

    I did not call the cops at the time, probably should have. Sounds like if it is the same guy- I confident stance, and a few tough words will help deter him.

  10. Pool of blood???? Was the driver scared and looking for company? Am I missing something here?

  11. That sounds like exactly the same guy… I’ll forward this to some folks at the e. precinct.

    For demographic info, are you male or female?

  12. It almost sounds like someone who’s mildly autistic. That poor sense of boundaries and social skills is a common problem.

  13. I have no idea what the deal was… And I’m not exaggerating, there really was a significant amount of blood. The man behind me almost sat in the handicap-priority section, where the blood was coming from, and the bus driver said “Don’t sit there, there’s blood,” but the next people who got on weren’t warned and sat in the same spot! I could tell the driver was about to say something, but then just hoped they didn’t notice. He gave courtesy stops the whole way home.
    It was really weird.

  14. I probably would have reacted much more firmly, but I am female, either called the police right away or if there were people around asked if there was a problem. But, the confusion and the fixation on you could have been autism which tends to also have an obsessive component.

    Either way, intervention by the authorities is not a bad thing.

  15. Autistic!!??!! I am familiar with autistic behavior. No, this guy has other problems, perhaps serious ones and need to be reported now!!

  16. Thanks for passing that along to the police – I am female, I was walking alone (no dog) and it was pretty early in the morning – just before 7:00.

  17. I think I encountered him about two years ago. I was planting in the parking strip in front of my house (near 22nd & Pine) and he came up very quickly, crossing the street and stood three feet from me and stared. I asked him what was going on and he said something weird like “there’s a woman and a boy in that house over there…”. I said, “OK, do you know them?”. I can’t remember what else was said but I excused myself quickly from that Twilight Zone moment and went back into the house. He finally wandered off.