Man accused of harassing middle schoolers for wearing masks

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 12:24 AM EST
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LA CRESCENTA, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - Parents in California are demanding action against a man they say has been following children on their way home from school and harassing them for wearing masks.

Concerned parents gathered Monday outside the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station to demand an investigation into what some believe rises to the level of criminal harassment. They say a man has been following middle and elementary school students away from their schools for months and harassing them about their masks.

“Clearly, there is a problem here, not just a mental health issue but an anger management issue, and an issue where he feels compelled to attack people who are more vulnerable than him,” said parent Emily Lanigan.

Video shows the man, often seen wearing a shirt that reads “Your mask makes you look stupid,” taunt middle school students for wearing masks last Thursday in a parking lot near Rosemont Middle School in La Crescenta, California.

“Stay scared. Keep your masks on that don’t even work,” said the man in the video. “Bunch of idiots!”

When a father, only identified as Ned, steps in to defend those kids, the anti-mask tirade escalates, and the man calls mask-wearing child abuse.

Ned alleges the man also got inches away from the kids and coughed in their faces. The father called the sheriff’s department, but when a deputy arrived, he couldn’t determine that any crime had occurred.

“[He] decided to lecture these children about freedom of speech, instead of taking their names and creating an incident report,” Lanigan said.

Lt. Robert Hahnlein, the acting captain at the sheriff’s department, says deputies have identified the man in the video. Now that they’re aware of the ongoing incidents, they are working with Glendale Police to investigate.

“It could rise to annoying children,” Hahnlein said. “I have sympathy with the parents. If my kids were there when something like this happened, I would be upset, too, and I would want something done.”

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