By Bob Uphues
UPDATED: Thursday, Oct. 22 at 9:21 a.m.
Riverside police have charged a 65-year-old Summit man with disorderly conduct after he allegedly offered a child candy while sitting in his car and motioned for the child to approach the vehicle in the 300 block of Fairbank Road on the morning of Oct. 19.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said the man was charged with the misdemeanor offense after being interviewed by detectives on Wednesday evening. Weitzel said the man stated that he was "just trying to be nice" by offering the child candy, adding that the man acted strangely during the interview, at one point saying he used to work out with former professional baseball and football star Bo Jackson and flexing his muscles at detectives.
Riverside police are also investigating an incident where a man, reportedly driving a dark gray Nissan, confronted a female jogger near Big Ball Park during the early morning hours of Oct. 21. At this time, however, police say they have no evidence linking the man they arrested to any other case.
Riverside police say they plan to interview a Summit man who owns the vehicle involved in what was described as a "suspicious incident" in the 300 block of Fairbank Road on Oct. 19 at about 8:20 a.m.
Detectives detained the man at his home on the afternoon of Oct. 21 after obtaining a license plate number of the vehicle from a security camera. According to police, a man in his 50s driving a dark gray Nissan stopped on Fairbank Road, rolled down the window, displayed what appeared to be candy to a young child and motioned for the child to come closer.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said security camera video obtained by detectives confirms that sequence of events. Weitzel said that at all times the child was in the company of an adult nanny, who picked up the child and walked away.
The incident was not reported to police until the morning of Oct. 20, according to Weitzel, and the investigation is still in the very early stages. The man detained by police may or may not have been driving the car at the time of the incident, Weitzel said.
The owner of the vehicle, said Weitzel, generally fits the description of the driver given to police. At no time did the driver of the vehicle speak with the child, nor was any physical contact made, Weitzel said.
Riverside Elementary School District 96 officials notified parents of students about the incident in an email sent late Wednesday morning.
Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye informed parents that in response to the incident, additional staff would be present for school arrivals and dismissals out of an abundance of caution.
"This situation is also a valuable reminder to speak with your children about the importance of walking in groups (socially distanced and mask-wearing these days) and not talking with strangers," Ryan-Toye said in the email.