Thursday, December 20, 2018

MLGW workers aid girl pursued by predator

On Oct. 1 around 7:30 a.m., Cedric Taylor pulled his MLGW F-150 Ford truck to his first water meter stop. On both sides of Scott Street, buildings stood neglected and boarded up. He clicked on his truck’s flashing yellow light. As he logged a service ticket into his laptop, he heard someone tapping on his window.

A girl, shaking and crying, told him a man was following her and asking her for sex. At one point, she said the man attempted to lure her behind an abandoned apartment building. Taylor opened his truck door to shield the 13-year-old girl. She explained to Taylor that she was walking to her bus stop at Scott and Yale when the man approached her.

“I assured her he wasn’t about to come over to my truck,” Taylor said. “She was crying. She kept looking back over her shoulder. It was hard because I have daughters, nieces, cousins.” In his seven years at MLGW, he added, “I've never had anything like that happen before.”

Taylor called 911 and MLGW’s Control Room. He also phoned a friend working nearby. Taylor explained with backup from Marshawn Strickland, his co-worker in the Water Meter shop, “I didn’t want the guy to get away.”

The suspect, Taylor said, stared at him and the girl. The suspect remained nearby waiting. “Marshawn helped me a lot. It kept both of us – contained. Without him, I would have lost my temper. I would have lost my job.”

Minutes before, Strickland had driven past Taylor. He saw the girl in his rear view mirror as she approached Taylor’s truck. With Strickland's phone, the distraught girl called her aunt. “I was in shock,” Strickland said. “It felt like the man was waiting on us to leave.”

Within minutes, Memphis Police arrested and charged James Williams, 26, for solicitation of a minor.

Both Taylor and Strickland said they don’t consider themselves, heroes. “I was glad I was there,” Taylor said.

MLGW Supervisor Heath McCallen said his men are always looking to do the right thing. “They’re exceptional employees. It makes me feel good that our department stepped up and stopped it,” he said. “It could have ended badly.”

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