NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police were searching Tuesday for a suspect who allegedly tried to lure a 12-year-old girl near an elementary school in Newark, and got away after being confronted by a crossing guard.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, extra security was posted outside the Louise A. Spencer Elementary School, at 2 Cedar St. in Newark. A school crossing guard was just in the right spot Monday when the 12-year-old student needed her most.

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“I’m very glad that I was there to help the little girl,” said crossing guard Annie Walker.

Walker said keeping kids safe goes with her job, and she knew what to do when the girl came up to her in a panic.

“I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ Then she told me that the guy was chasing her,” Walker said. “She was all upset and crying, and nervous.”

The sixth grader told Walker a dark-skinned man in his 30s wearing a gray jacket, jeans and a blue hat was following her. And she said it wasn’t the first time.

Indeed the girl claims the man followed her more than once.
“He did it on Friday from the Boys and Girls Club,” Walker said.

Walker instructed the girl to go inside the school and get school security, and then the brave crossing guard saw the man and confronted him.

“I talk to him. He said: ‘I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it,’” Walker said. “I said: ‘Yes, you did, because she’s all upset. She’s not lying.’”

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The man got away. Community activists late Tuesday afternoon were handing out flyers to warn parents a predator is out there.

They said the school did not notify parents.

“They should’ve done a parent alert,” said community activist Donna Jackson. “They didn’t do that. They wouldn’t do that, and as you guys saw today, it’s pulling teeth to get information from them.”

To keep students safe, community activists advised them to walk in groups, establish safe places at trusted stores or neighbors’ houses, and tell kids to scream, “Help!” and, “This is not my parent.”

The girl’s mother, who did not want her face shown, said her daughter as of Tuesday was “a little shaken up; she’s scared.”

The girl’s mother also said she was grateful that Walker did her job so very well.

“I told her thank you. I told her thank you so much, because I could’ve got a different phone call. You know, it could’ve went any way if she wasn’t there to help,” the girl’s mother said.

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Community activists said they have handed out at least 100 fliers to alert people to the incident, and plan to distribute many more as the suspect search continues in Newark.