An Illinois man who lingered in his van at a local daycare center didn’t wind up in jail on Thursday, February 23. But he drew plenty of attention from city, county and federal law enforcement officers before he was released.
Four Atmore Police Department patrol officers, a city detective, a patrol deputy and K-9 team from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, and two U.S. Marshals eventually wound up at Little Steps Learning Center, on East Nashville Avenue, after the staff there reported – for the second straight day – the presence of an unkempt individual.
The man’s clothing, stained by ground-in dirt, as well as a mane of wild, dirty hair and an untamed beard, gave him the appearance of a stereotypical homeless person.
The man, who was not identified since no charges were filed against him, was detained for more than half an hour around midday. He was never handcuffed, although he was questioned at length by police, who also conducted a thorough search of the van he was driving.
Prior to the search, an ECSO K-9 officer was led along the outside edge of each side of the vehicle. The dog did not alert to the presence of drugs or any other potentially illegal or dangerous substance.
A city police officer said reports that the man had tried to lure children into the van could not be verified, although he provided authorities with no viable reason for his presence at the nursery school.
A city policeman discovered a bottle with several pills in it inside the van, but another officer used his Smartened to confirm that the pills were an over-the-counter medication. A check of the man’s driver’s license and the van’s registration plates indicated that he was not wanted for any crimes, and he was subsequently released without charges.
An APD spokesperson said Monday (February 27) that all local and area law enforcement agencies, as well as any state or federal agencies that might be working in the area, have been made aware of the man’s presence at the local learning center, and that all officers at those agencies have been “put on alert” that the man might possibly show up in their areas.
He has also been legally banned from the Atmore daycare center at which he was detained.
“He was trespassed from Little Steps Learning Center property,” the spokesperson said. “If he returns to the property for any reason, he will be arrested and charged with criminal trespass.”