BARTLETT, Tenn. — A Bartlett mom was horrified to find out that while her two daughters were walking home from school, they said someone pulled up beside them and started touching himself inappropriately.
It happened just a few weeks ago. The woman we spoke with told us her nine and 10-year-old daughters were usually home by 3:15 p.m., but she knew something was off when they had not gotten home by 3:20.
"I went to go look for them, see where they were," said the mom, who did not want to be identified. "I pulled up, and they were crying hysterically."
The girls were walking home in the Easthill neighborhood along with several other girls, some as young as five, when the suspect, identified as a 16-year-old, did what was unimaginable to the mom.
"And they said that a boy in a purple car had pulled up beside them, rolled his window down, yelled to get their attention, and when they looked..."
The group said he had pulled himself up and was inappropriately touching himself.
Despite what was happening, the 9-year-old thought quickly.
"The house they were standing in front of, she turned towards the house and screamed, 'MOM' really loud, and it scared him away because that's when he sped off."
Thankfully the child's mother told us she had just had a lesson in stranger danger that week in school.
The mom immediately got in touch with police and put her detective skills to work, too. She realized the home surveillance cameras probably captured the car, which they did. She said Bartlett Police officers did extra patrols in the neighborhood, and since the vehicle was unique, they tracked him down.
She now wants to make sure he's held accountable and gets help.
"This kind of sickness is an addiction," she said. "And if he doesn't get the help that he needs right now, it's gonna be a long and dangerous road for him and everybody that he comes in contact with."
She has a message to parents: be aware and talk to your children to know what to do in uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations.
"We need to watch our kids and not just our own children, but we need to be on the lookout for everybody's children because we're a village, and it takes a village to raise these kids."
She said her daughters are no longer walking home.
People we talked with did not think the 16-year-old lived in the area. His case is now being handled in juvenile court.