A man put his hands around the neck of a young camper in the state forest last Thursday in an incident the Nantucket Police Department is investigating as an assault and battery case.
New details about the incident involving the young boy who was in the forest with a summer camp group from the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club have been disclosed in a police report obtained by the Current through a public records request.
One of the camp counselors “reported a male whom was described as being a white male with white/grey hair, approximately 5'8" tall, 50 years old wearing a red t-shirt and tan shorts approached a child, whom was walking towards the back of the group and grabbed him by the neck,” according to the report.
The unsettling event has prompted the Boys and Girls Club to cancel all future camp trips to the State Forest for the remainder of the summer.
The incident took place in the state forest between Fairgrounds Road and Lovers Lane, and the boy was approached by the unknown man near the area where the Wannacomet Water Company’s shed is located.
While there are several different descriptions of the suspect in the police report, they all indicate he is a white male, with white hair.
“Following the incident the police informed the Club that they now believe that there are people living in the State Forest,” Boys & Girls Club executive director Jamie Foster said in a statement provided to the Current. “This is the first time the NBGC has been alerted to any security concerns at that location."
Nantucket Police Department Lt. Angus MacVicar said the investigation into the incident is active and ongoing, and officers are searching for the suspect based on the description given by camp counselors. He also clarified what was stated by the Club regarding people living in the state forest.
“I don’t know of anyone reported living in the state forest in that area,” MacVicar said. “We’ve certainly had reports of people and know of people who have lived behind the Island Lumber area, and that too is considered a state forest.”
The police report indicates the Boys and Girls Club contacted Nantucket Police just after 3 p.m. to report the incident.
“I advised all of the involved parties to call the police immediately should they require assistance in the future,” officer Joseph Tirone wrote in the report.
MacVicar emphasized that community members should always be aware of their surroundings, especially when getting out into the more remote areas of the island.
“We’re still investigating and actively looking for the person as described by the staff of the Boys & Girls Club, but at this point no one has been identified,” MacVicar said. “You should always be aware of your surroundings when you’re in remote areas and be cautious in doing so.”
The club’s internal incident report - which was shared with the Current by the parents of the victim - indicated that the boy had fallen behind the group to pick up a stick when he was approached by the man.
“(name redacted) noticed the man walking, and thought he would continue past the group but he walked up to (the victim) and put his hands on his neck. (name redacted) told (the victim) to ‘come here’ and she asked him if he knew the man. (The victim) explained that he did not know him and referred to him as an evil person.”