HOUSTON - A man has been arrested after allegations that he tried to grabbed two girls walking to school in the Spring Branch area.
Jose Luis Sanchez, 40, is charged with assault.
Two girls said they were nearly taken Wednesday by a man outside Northbrook High School.
The two seniors said a man grabbed them as they were walking to school.
Neither girl wanted to be identified, so we will refer to them as Sara and Samantha.
Sara said she was walking to school around 8:50 a.m.
"I was walking by myself, just listening to music," Sara said.
Like other seniors, Sara's day starts with second period, also called "late start."
The man, later identified as Sanchez, walked past Sara, and seconds later, she said, "he grabbed my, my butt, and then like, he let go and then he grabbed my legs. He was holding me tight. He was trying to pick me up."
Sara said she prayed that God would give her strength to fight her attacker. She elbowed him as hard as she could in the head and the man let go and ran, she said. Sanchez jumped into a white Jeep and took off, she said.
Thirty minutes later, across the street, Samantha was also walking alone to second period. She said she noticed a man in a white Jeep drive past her slowly while staring at her.
The man parked behind her, got out of the car and started to follow her, she said.
"He ran up to me and grabbed my butt, and right when I turned around to punch him, he was already running, 'cause I screamed at him to get away from me," Samantha said.
HPD investigators have arrested the suspect accused of grabbing two female students in the Spring Branch area yesterday afternoon. Jose Luis Sanchez, 40 years old, is charged with Class A Assault. He drove a white Jeep Cherokee Laredo. #hounews @BrendaStardig @SBISD pic.twitter.com/21JXho9jP8 — Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 12, 2018
Seconds earlier, Samantha said she called her mom, Sandra, who heard everything.
"I could hear it in her voice, and (Samantha) was like, 'Mom, this guy is trying to get me!'" Sandra said. "And (Samantha) said, 'Get the hell away from me!'"
Sandra wondered if her daughter had been taken. But seconds later, she heard an unidentified woman ask Samantha if she was alright.
The two seniors met each other later that morning and realized they survived an attack from, they believe, the same man -- Sanchez.
"I’m for sure it was," Samantha said. "Because of her description-- the short hair, Mexican, short, had a white Jeep."
Parents of both seniors filed police reports and told school officials.
The parents said that by the end of the school day, officials had not sent parents or students an alert about the incidents.
Parents and students were still uneasy on Thursday.
“I think it’s really scary for us to just walk. We can’t be safe in our own neighborhood,” Makaylynn Hubbard said.
“It’s kinda frightening because I'm walking to my friend’s house and walking here from there,” Lexi Ratcliff said. “I just put it in my mind that people can be rude and disrespectful, cruel and it’s just not something that’s right.”
Houston police were at the school investigating Thursday. They increased patrols in the area to make sure students were safe.
Houston police said Thursday they believed they made headway in the cases.
"I have a high degree of confidence that we will identify a suspect," Capt. D. Angelo said. "(With) The databases that we have, I am very confident we will identify a suspect in this case."
Northbrook High School officials said a message was sent to parents in the early evening that read:
"Dear Parents and Guardians,
"I am writing today to inform you that an incident concerning the safety and security of several students occurred off campus near the intersection of Crestdale between Kempwood and North Raider Circle this morning before school. Two students reported to campus administrators that they were approached by two males in a White Durango as they were walking to school. Fortunately, our students responded swiftly to protect themselves and arrived safely at school.
"SBISD Police were promptly notified and an investigation is underway. We are proud of our students for immediately notifying adults at school.
"Please take time to review basic safety with your children and family.
"Here are a few reminders:
- Students should remain aware of their surroundings at all times.
- Students should avoid speaking to strangers or approaching unknown vehicles.
- If possible, students walking to or from school should not walk alone. Walk with another student or friend whenever possible.
- Parents should know where their children are before and after the school day.
- Parents should be on time. Please drop off and pick up your children on time for the regular school day, or for after-school programs or practices. Students shouldn’t be left alone for long periods waiting outside of the school building.
- Students who may be standing alone during bus pick up or drop off need to be monitored; adults who are at home should consider observing at the bus stop.
- Northbrook High has strong safety and security measures in place. Students, staff or visitors must wear appropriate ID badges inside the building at all times. School doors are locked for students’ safety, and main doors are locked when school is not in session.
- If you or your child observes a serious incident, contact police immediately. Try to recall details such as license plate numbers, type of vehicle or a suspect’s facial characteristics. Inform police.
"Our highest priority is the safety, security and well-being of your children."
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