By Mary O’Keefe
Glendale police have investigated reports concerning a man taking pictures of children at Dunsmore Park last weekend. The 29-year-old man, according to police, is autistic and was working on a photography project.
The man reportedly approached several children at the park. Parents had contacted the Glendale police and had begun to send e-mails warning other parents of the incident. Police found the man in the park and questioned him. They looked at his camera and photographs and found nothing suggestive. The e-mails however have sparked concern and the autistic man’s family wants to inform the community that their son is not a threat.
“He is autistic and is interested in photography. He had in his head what he wanted to do [for a photography project] but just went about it all wrong,” said the man’s mother. She wishes to keep her and her son’s identity private.
The man is in treatment for autism and attends a school for the autistic. He and his family live in La Crescenta and have been actively involved in the community. The mother said she does have control over her son but unfortunately due to his autism he at times does not have the proper social skills.
She wants the community to know that her son simply wanted to take photographs and did not mean to cause anyone to worry. The family had heard about the e-mails and has been in touch with the Glendale police, most recently through community Officer Matt Zakarian.
“We do take the concerns of the parents seriously but want to make certain of all the facts,” Zakarian said.
The autistic man understands that parents feared he was a predator. In the past his mother and father had explained what a predator was for his own safety.
“He understands what he is being accused of. He grew up in this community. It is his home. He is heartsick of what people think of him,” she added.
His mother said that this was a misunderstanding and hopes that people now understand that her son is not a threat.
“He was over enthusiastic about his photography. He has played in that park all his life and is comfortable there,” she said.
Zakarian added the concerned parents who contacted the police did the right thing.
“We are glad when the public brings this type of concern to the attention of the police department,” he added. The police will actively investigate to get all the facts, he said.
The family hopes the e-mails and concerns will stop once people know that their son is not a threat.
“He is so sorry he upset everybody,” the mother said.