OWASSO, Okla. - Some Owasso parents were sent letters Friday about a registered sex offender allegedly caught photographing young girls on their way home from school.
The mother of 10- and 15-year-old girls alerted the Owasso Police Department Thursday afternoon. Cynthia said her eldest daughter reported seeing a man taking pictures of the sisters and their neighbor on their walk home from Mills Elementary.
According to the 15-year-old, the man, who was working on renovations at a home just up the street, "was really creepy" and "kept staring" as he took photos of them.
"I just got this really creepy feeling when I saw the flash. I just thought 'That's not something that should be happening," the girl said.
After hearing her daughter's story, mother Cynthia drove to the house where the man was earlier, took down a license plate on his trailer and called police.
"What were his intentions?" Cynthia asked. "As a parent, he has no business taking pictures of any children, let alone, my children. For me, that was a big 'no.' It sent off alarms immediately."
Shortly after police arrived at Cynthia's home to file a report, the man drove by to exit the neighborhood.
An Owasso officer pulled the 49-year-old over for a minor traffic violation and questioned him about taking pictures of the three girls. He denied photographing any of them, but upon looking into his criminal history, officers learned the man, from Tulsa, was convicted of second-degree rape in the late 1990's, according to OPD Lt. Nick Boatman.
Boatman said because the man is off probation, wasn't within 500 feet from the elementary school, and since taking pictures of people is not a crime -- police had no grounds to arrest him.
Boatman said this should serve as a reminder to children to stay alert, leave when they feel threatened and immediately report their concerns.
"The children involved in this incident can be congratulated for their awareness and quick response in reporting this incident," said Boatman. "Their quick action resulted in timely contact with the suspect, which may serve as a deterrent to future behavior."