By Tiger Staff
Photo by Kevin Huang
All three SPEF Summer School campuses were placed on lockdown this morning at approximately 10:00 a.m., after reports of sexual harassment, indecent exposure and burglaries in the area.
At 7:40 a.m. a student on her way to SPHS reported being physically accosted by an African American male in his 20s. According to the victim, the suspect crossed the street toward her on Diamond after she smiled at him. He slowed to a stop in front of her, and as she passed him, asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?” After she responded negatively, the man grabbed her wrist and attempted to lift her dress. She broke free and ran to the high school.
“At first, I didn’t even think I should report the incident,” the victim said. “It was scary, but I didn’t see it as a big deal. My friends had to tell me, ‘No, you have to tell someone.’”
The student went to the nurse, who referred her to Mr. Greg Luna, the Summer School Assistant Principal, and acting principal for the day. Mr. Luna immediately reported the incident to the police department, who questioned the girl.
“The administration called the police right away, and the police arrived immediately,” she said. “I think it was handled very well on all ends.”
It was later reported that two additional incidents of verbal harassment accredited to the same man occurred that morning.
At 9:15 a.m. a report came in of a man “indecently exposing himself” near the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Rollin Street. While investigating that incident, police received reports of a break in on Lyndon Street, and soon received reports of several more break ins along Fair Oaks and Rollin. Officers on the scene quickly determined the suspect was connected to the harassment incidents earlier in the morning. South Pasadena Police Department Corporal Bill Earley reported that SPPD “saturated the area with officers,” including calling in a police helicopter in an attempt to locate the suspect.
Around 10:00 a.m., after receiving instructions from the SPPD, Superintendent Dr. Geoff Yantz notified the on-site principals at each SPEF Summer School campus that a burglary suspect was in the Marengo area. Following instructions from the superintendent, each school was placed on lockdown.
Students at SPHS were notified that the lockdown was in response to a burglary suspect in the area, while students at Marengo and SPMS report not being informed of the reason for the lockdowns. All parents with students enrolled in SPEF Summer School were notified about the lockdowns via phone call by the district around 10:15 a.m. At 10:40 a.m., the superintendent’s office cleared each school to release the lockdowns.
“When I first heard, I couldn’t at all believe it. I have three kids [in the district] who were all in the summer school at the time; and in the twenty years that we’ve lived here, nothing like this has ever happened before,” South Pasadena resident and parent of four Luz Uriarte said. “[My youngest] had no way of contacting me. When I picked him up, he was worried since he had no idea what was going on or why.”
According to a news report released by the police department, evidence led detectives to the area of Soto Avenue and Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles around 2:15 p.m., where the suspect was found driving a stolen vehicle and taken into custody. He has been identified as Michael David Brownlee, a 22-year-old male out of Los Angeles.