Security increased near school where student was kidnapped, raped

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Police increased patrols in Orange Mound near Melrose High School two days after a student was kidnapped and raped while walking home from class.

The student told police her attacker threatened her with a knife and forced her to walk a half mile through the woods to an abandoned house on Radford Road.

Officials said the abandoned home is now in the process of being boarded up by order of the city.

"I was in shock, because I was thinking--like I stay right here. It could've been me. I come in late, and you know it's just me and my kids that stay here," Georgia Williams, who lives on Redford Road, said.

The victim told police her attacker was an African-American man in his early 20s with a beard and mustache. She said he was wearing a black hoodie, black pants, blue and grey camouflage boxers, and black and gold shoes.

Shelby County Schools said teachers and staff members "shared important safety reminders with students and families" since the incident happened. The district said it also asked students and families to be extra vigilant.

Memphis Police Department said officers have noticed an uptick in reports from parents and school administrators of students being approached by strangers as they walk to and from school. The uptick began a few months ago.

However, MPD said it had no reason to believe the incidents were connected in any way.

"They're all isolated events. There's not anything in common with it...there is no certain person we're looking for," Lt. James Taylor with MPD's Sex Crimes Unit said.

Investigators said they pulled video from nearby security cameras, in hopes they can identify a suspect.

As investigators search for the man responsible for Monday's attack, police and the school district ask for all students to be vigilant.

Since the alleged attack, police made their presence known patrolling the area.

"Between seven in the morning when the school opens and when the school closes there's going to be extra officers assigned to those areas," Lt. Taylor said.

Police attribute the spike in reports to students trusting school administrators and law enforcement enough to come forward to report the incidents.

Still, parents and students are asked not to let their guard down.

"Just keep an eye out on the kids," Lt. Taylor said. "And if you see something contact the police and let us know."

Police were unable to provide an exact number of crimes involving students walking to and from school.

They also urged kids to walk in groups if their parents can't walk with them.

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