Sex predator jolt leads to arrest outside Elkin Elementary
by Anthony Gonzalez
ELKIN — A registered child sex offender was snagged last week by an Elkin police officer after being seen on school property.
Steven Curtis Wood, 41, of Elkin was charged with Sex Offender Unlawfully on Child Premise on Nov. 19 and arrested just outside Elkin Elementary, according to an Elkin Police Department report.
According to the police report, the incident occurred when Wood accompanied a female friend to pick up her son at the elementary school.
School officials state that no children were in danger. Wood never exited the vehicle, but the vehicle was on school property.
State law places a safe buffer zone, a 300-foot barrier against offenders, thus prohibiting them from being anywhere near children.
With Wood’s 1998 conviction of attempted rape and indecent liberty of a minor on a Wilkes County child, he is required to register under North Carolina’s Sex Offender Registration Program.
That’s how he was recognized.
Elkin Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said the incident is “isolated, but shows how effective the system is and how the current procedures designed to safeguard children really works.”
The school district credits Elkin police officer Mendy Peles, who observed Wood leaving school property. According to police records, Peles recognized Wood as being on the state’s sex offender database. With support of Elkin police officer Brooks, who was also on traffic duty, Peles moved in and made the arrest.
After the incident was under control, Peles informed Kevin Hall, resource officer for the Elkin school district, and Hall pulled in school authorities. The superintendent was notified immediately.
Though most of the parents and students were unaware of the incident, the school district informed faculty and parents. The timely notice to parents was released within 24 hours and after a police investigation was completed.
Bledsoe stressed his appreciation on partnering with law enforcement.
“The work behind-the scenes between law enforcement and the school district shows how we’re in this together,” said Bledsoe. “It’s symbolic of the work we do in Elkin.”
The zero-tolerance strategy toward keeping sex offenders in check and immediately arresting predators who violate state statute sends a clear message, say residents.
“Not in our backyard,” said an Elkin mother of three who has a third grader in school.
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