PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Police arrested a man after he groped a female middle school student and tried to grab a boy walking to his elementary school at the P.S. 9 campus in Prospect Heights, according to school staff, police and prosecutors.
Andres Delacruz, 55, was standing outside the school at Underhill Avenue and St. Marks Avenue shortly after 7:30 a.m. March 3 when he reached for a male student’s hand, saying “come here boy,” according to court documents.
Moments later, he grabbed the chest of a female student of Brooklyn East Collegiate — a charter middle school located in the same building — at the corner of Underhill and Bergen Street, the charges read.
Both students ran away from Delacruz immediately, said P.S. 9 principal Sandra D’Avilar in a letter sent to parents the day of the incident.
“If your child encounters a situation in which your child is fearful about his or her safety, your child should immediately run in the opposite direction and yell for help to alert bystanders,” she wrote.
Delacruz was arraigned on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, forcible touching and sexual abuse and released on his own recognizance, though the judge issued a temporary full order of protection, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
At a community meeting with the local precinct Monday night, Prospect Heights parent Lawrence Quigley — whose 11-year-old daughter attended P.S. 9 and often walks by the school with friends, he said — voiced his concern about the incident, asking the 77th Precinct commanding officer, Eddie Lott, for more information.
“When I hear things like this — I have an 11-year-old daughter — I go into papa bear mode and I would appreciate a little bit more transparency, if possible, to know who the person is, where is this person residing ... Are they coming down from Westchester? Are they around the corner?” he asked.
Lott promised to find out what information he could legally release to Quigley, while reminding the meeting attendees, “we have to be very mindful of what we can give out because he [Delacruz] has rights.”
“What his intentions, what his purposes were, fortunately, the officers intervened before that was found out,” Lott added.
Delacruz is due back at court on April 15.