A chilling warning from Ottawa Police after a man came close to a school last week and offered a child some candy.
Police say he left before he could be questioned by staff, but a witness on school grounds took a picture of the man.

The incident happened last Tuesday morning at Manordale Public School on Carola Street in Ottawa's west end.  It was 8:15 a.m., just as school was about to start and the kids were gathering on the playground at the elementary school. 

Ottawa Police say a man who wasn't known to the students or the staff entered the grounds of the school and headed towards some kids.  The front doors of the school are kept locked.

‘He approached some young kids offering candies,’ explains Cst. Chuck Benoit of the Ottawa Police, ‘and from that point, a bright young little guy ran to a staff member and advised them of what was going on.’

One of those adults managed to snap this photo of the man.  He's described as 25 to 35 years old, medium build with short dark hair.

‘It's scary because I have kids too’ says Athena who works as a volunteer lunch monitor at Manordale Public School, ‘so it's scary. Talk to your kids about things.’

Staff at the school notified police immediately and a letter went out that evening to parents, warning of a suspicious incident.

"Parents and guardians should regularly review road safety rules with their children," the note said, "and the importance of not accepting rides or any invitations or gifts from strangers."

It is advice that 8-year-old Peter Nozin has taken to heart.

‘If a stranger asks you if you want a candy or do you want to help me carry boxes to my car, don't go with them and run the other direction,’ he says.

Parents say they are pleased with the way the school handled the incident.

‘I'm really happy with the communications with kids and what staff did, says Peter Nozin’s mother Tetiana, ‘when he came home, he knew about the topic and knew what he should and shouldn't do.’

Now the onus is on police to find the man and on parents to make sure their children know about stranger danger.

‘Discuss it as often as they feel they should,’ advises Tetiana Nozin, ‘but often enough so kids will remember.’

Ottawa Police are not sure what the man wanted but they are concerned about his intentions.

‘To be on the property of the school itself creates a concern,’ says Cst. Benoit, ‘to approach little kids and give them candy, that’s another concern.  What was his intention after that?  That’s what we want to know.’

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Detective Andrew McAnany, at 613-236-1222 ext 8797.