There was a bit of a scare at a Syracuse elementary school Thursday morning when a man was found inside a girls TM bathroom, allegedly with a knife.
Police say the incident began when a girl was walking to Bellevue Academy just before 9:00 a.m. Police say the girl was approached by a man, who asked if she wanted to "skip school" with him. The girl said no, and the suspect allegedly tried to grab her arm. The girl ran to school and told a police officer, and the police department put out a bulletin about the suspect and the incident.
Shortly after 9:00, a few blocks away, a ten-year-old girl went into a bathroom at Delaware Elementary School only to discover the same man inside, leaning against a wall and counting money. He asked her age, but she left the bathroom and told a teacher. Another student entered the bathroom, saw the man, and also left. Male teachers confronted the man and attempted to take him to the principal's office, but he darted out a door and left the school. A teacher followed him after calling 911.
As the suspect fled down Geddes Street, police put out an all points bulletin. Police Chief Frank Fowler happened to be in the area and heard the call. He cut the suspect off saw him throw something into bushes, which later turned out to be a knife.
"This is a sad and tragic incident that could have gone horribly wrong at any point, had it not been for the brave men and women in that school and the police officer at Bellevue Academy," Chief Fowler said.
Police say it was Chief Fowler who arrested the suspect.
"It's real simple, I don't ask anything of my men and women of the Syracuse Police Department that I'm not prepared to do myself," Chief Fowler said. "I'm still relatively young as it relates to police work and I'm capable of doing this job."
The suspect has been identified as 39-year-old Phillip Lane of Rochester. He is charged with burglary, endangering the welfare of child, and harassment, and could face more charges.
Fowler says Lane had the knife with him when he was inside the Delaware school. Fowler described Lane as "a predator on a mission" and believes the situation could have gone horribly wrong at any point.