To start off, Target has been a go to place for me for as long as I can remember. My mother and I would be in there at least four to five times a week, we were there so often that employees would remember us and greet us by name whenever they seen us. However, it never occurred to me just how dangerous a shopping center could be, until one night changed my life forever.

I live in a small town in southern West Virgina, there are no more than 5,000 people who reside in my area. Most of them being elderly and harmless, and the occasional young punk who will do anything for a buck.  But all in all it is a fairly nice and safe area, or atleast I thought.

One night after school my mother asked me if I would like to go to Target with her pick up a couple groceries and of course I agreed and we went on our way.  Usually we went to target during the evening time or the early morning but this time it was around 11 PM,  so of course there were no cars in the parking lot but maybe one or two.  We were greeted by familiar faces and smiles as we made our way down each aisle.  Being only eight or nine years old at the time  I remember how excited I was when we approached the candy aisle and I begged my mom to buy me some candy and of course she said no. As I continued walking with her upset we noticed someone following us, and it wasn’t in a way that a normal person would just be going up and down the isles looking for something it was pretty obvious that they were following us.

My mother being protective as she always was, quietly told me to stay by her side and to not wander off.  As we quickly turned the corner and went down the next aisle we stopped hearing footsteps so my mother began to calm down.  But just as she breathed a sigh of relief a man poked his head out of the aisle that we were just in and when my mother locked eyes with him he quickly went back around the corner.  At this point my mother had had enough and decided to confront the man, she had me by the hand and we both slowly walked around the corner of the  isle and to both of our surprise nobody was there.

Thinking that maybe this person was looking for someone and it was a big misunderstanding we went about our shopping.  Just as we were finished and about to get to the checkout lanes my mother spotted the strange man once again staring at us with a sinister stare that only she could describe as hatred.  Fed up my mother marched over to him and asked him what his problem was and why he kept staring at us all he simply said was “why didn’t you buy her candy, she’s a pretty little thing, she deserves it.”  At that point my mother was so red in the face that I knew she was about to go off on this man.  But before she could say anything he started to reach for me and he almost grabbed my arm before she tackled him to the ground and called for help.

One of the regular employees who knew us immediately called the police and said that they would be here within 10 minutes.  Once the police got there it turns out he had been wanted for several counts of child pornography and molestation.  As my mother was giving her statement to the police officer I’ll never forget that face, that evil grin, and the words, “I’ll be back for you pretty girl” he muttered as the police were walking him out the door.  That encounter gave me nightmares for weeks and since then I have honestly never returned to Target nor do I ever want to.  It just comes to show how crazy people are nowadays, and how protective parents need to be of their children because you never know who is lurking in your town wanting to take your baby and do who knows what.

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