Please see below: the letter from West Street School principal Joanne Wilson and the press release from Southbridge Police Department and Southbridge Public Schools. All students were found to be safe.
JOINT PRESS RELEASE PD AND SCHOOLS
Contact; Chief Shane Woodson @ 508-764-5420 or Receiver Jeffrey A. Villar @ 774-318-1532
On Tuesday, February 4, 2020 The Southbridge Police Department received reports from students who attend West Street School who claimed they were being chased by an unknown male subject. The students reported being followed and chased by a man described as wearing black clothing, having dark skin, and having several facial tattoos. The incident was reported as occurring near the school immediately after school dismissal. Since the report of the incident the Southbridge Police Department increased patrols in the area and initiated a full investigation into the matter. The extra patrols consisted of unmarked police cars and plain clothed Detectives surveilling the area. Detectives from the Southbridge Police Department interviewed several witnesses about the incident which included several children that walk home together after school, parents, crossing guards, and area neighbors.
As a result of our investigation, numerous discrepancies in the version of accounts given by the students were discovered that questioned the validity of the report. Text message communications were also found between two of the students detailing what needed to be said to Officers in order to make their report to police more believable.
Additionally, video surveillance was obtained from the area during the time period of the reported incident and no children were observed on video being chased by any male subject. No subject matching the description was observed on video surveillance or by any adult witnesses interviewed that were in the area during dismissal time. There were no witnesses that reported ever seeing a male subject with the given description in the area prior to or after the date of the reported incident.
As a result of this investigation, no evidence could be obtained to corroborate the report of children being followed by a male subject on Tuesday, February 7, 2020 near West Street School and at no time was there any evidence that would indicate this event ever occurred.