Prairie Village police say man arrested after Porter Park chase was likely not ‘watching children in the park’

Jay Senter - May 24, 2018 11:09 am
The 24-year-old chased an 11-year-old from Porter Park to the Blue Moose on Monday.

In an update posted on Nextdoor and Facebook, Prairie Village police told city residents Wednesday that they did not believe the man arrested after chasing an 11-year-old from Porter Park to the Blue Moose at the Village Shops Monday had been “watching children in the park.”

Nathan Zerba. Photo via his Facebook profile.

Police arrested 24-year-old Nathan Zerba, a former SM East student, at the Blue Moose after he chased an 11-year-old girl from the park on her bike when she took a photo of his van. The girl had seen the man and his van at the park on previous occasions, and reported to her mother that he made her nervous. The girl made the decision to photograph the van Monday as a way to document it for her parents or the police since she thought it looked suspicious.

Police said that their investigation led them to the conclusion that the ensuing chase was the “result of a bad decision made by the adult after reacting to his property being photographed.”

Here’s the full post published on Nextdoor:

On PV case involving man chasing child from Porter Park to Blue Moose. The Police Dept has concluded its investigation and made an arrest of the adult male involved with this incident. The Police Dept wants the citizens to know that our investigation does not lead us to conclude that the person arrested was watching children in the park. Our investigation did reveal that the incident albeit unfortunate was more of a result of a bad decision made by the adult after reacting to his property being photographed. The Prairie Village Police Department wants to remind our citizens that they can help keep our streets and parks safe for all to enjoy by remembering this phrase “SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING.” Report any suspicious persons or activity to the Police Department so we can investigate it for you. Be Safe and Have a Great Summer in the Village.

Neighborhood residents reported seeing the grey minivan parked in the Porter Park lot for weeks. The surrounding streets have several teardown/rebuild projects underway, which means workers’ cars have been become a fixture in the area during the days. Some residents appear to have assumed the van belonged to a laborer working on a home project nearby.

But the incident has raised questions about security and surveillance at Prairie Village parks, which are supposed to close at 11 p.m. each night and with people prohibited from living out of their cars on park property. Some residents have come forward to ask the city to look into the installation of security cameras at parks so that police will be able to keep a better eye on such activity.

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