Child uses bathroom, man accused of taking pictures

By Lakecia Shockley - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

GILMER, TX (KLTV) - 24-year-old, Shawn Michael Willard, is charged with two counts of criminal trespassing.

"Yesterday, when it hit, it threw our world upside down," said Garey Lowery, a concerned parent. "Just knowing that it was that close and could have took place with one of our children."

Lowery is among the parents furious that a complete stranger was able to just walk into Gilmer Elementary.

"On Monday morning, we had an individual enter the rear of the elementary from a door that was apparently dislodged," said Rick Albritton, Gilmer ISD's superintendent.

Upshur County Sheriff's officials say Willard followed a child into the girl's bathroom. He was in the stall next to the child, and reportedly took a picture of the girl with his cell phone, before being spotted by a janitor.

"The janitor thought he was disoriented - thought he was just a disoriented parent [that] had walked in the wrong area," said Albritton. "He wasn't confrontational - didn't run - just left the building."

Superintendent Albritton says the school had a reason for not warning parents on Monday.

"It wasn't a violent encounter," said Albritton. "It wasn't one that lead us to believe that there was any danger. I live in a naive culture. I won't do that anymore. We know that he was there with bad motives and so that evening we developed a letter to send to our parents."

But, for some parents, that letter was too little, too late.

"Not getting any kind of news from them until two days after the fact it just upset us," said Lowery. "As a parent, we should be notified immediately when something jeopardizes the child's safety."

"As a superintendent I'm responsible for everyone and I take full responsibility here but I believe that we are safer today than we were Monday," said Albritton.

After this incident, Gilmer ISD installed security cameras on the elementary school campus, and plan on adding them on other campuses. The district is also looking at hiring a full time school patrol officer.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.