City man held for encounters with students

Gonzales allegedly accosted teens 3 times near AAHS

From Mirror staff reports

A city man is in jail after police say he accosted three teenagers in separate incidents near the Altoona Area High School.

David Gonzales Jr., 28, of 613 18th St., was arraigned Friday on three felony charges and seven misdemeanors stemming from incidents in September and early December where Gonzales allegedly made improper and bizarre comments to the teenagers, as well as making inappropriate physical contact.

According to Altoona po­lice, it started about 7 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 26, when a 14-year-old girl stopped in the Sheetz store at 17th Street and Seventh Avenue. As the girl was leaving with her purchase, Gonzales allegedly tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Your dad said you don’t have to go to school today.”

Police said Gonzales then grabbed the girl’s arm and pulled her toward him. A manager at the store intervened and told Gonzales, who allegedly has a reputation at the store for causing trouble, to leave or she was calling the police.

Gonzales then walked to the area around the Mountain Lion statue on Sixth Avenue and walked up to a 13-year-old girl who was walking alone to the junior high building.

Police said Gonzales spoke about “Egypt and other random topics” and told the girl, “My sister used to go to preschool and she used to be crying, but when she saw me she would stop,” Altoona police Detective David Dey noted in the charges.

“That reminds me of you,” Gonzales allegedly said.

Police said the girl was frightened and confused and ignored Gonzales, but he followed her as she walked across Sixth and Seventh avenues toward the doors of the junior high. As they walked, Gonzales started to lean on the girl, police said.

When the girl arrived at the school’s doors, Gonzales allegedly kissed her on the cheek and said, “Have a good day, sis.”

Police said neither girl knew Gonzales but they were able to identify him by his distinct tattoo — a cross on his right cheek.

The last incident was Dec. 9 in the area around 19th Street and Ninth Avenue. A 17-year-old boy walking to work about 3 p.m. told police that Gonzales walked up to him and started yelling and swearing. The boy tried to change his route to avoid Gonzales, but the 28-year-old continued to walk close to the boy and speak in a growling voice.

Gonzales allegedly was saying things about religion and about his family being killed and at one point he told the boy, “All your ancestors bled for centuries,” police noted.

The boy told Gonzales to get away from him, but he continued to harass the kid, police said.

Gonzales then asked, “Are you scared? Are you scared? Hug your f—ing brother,” before he grabbed the boy in a bear hug, police allege. He then grabbed the kid’s buttocks before walking away, while muttering to himself.

The school district alerted Altoona police to the incidents and when Gonzales was questioned Thursday night, he allegedly tried to play off the interactions as though he was “only kidding.” He claimed he thinks of everyone as his brothers and sisters and he said he grabbed the boy’s butt be­cause he has a history of working in restaurant kitch­ens where such actions are considered “kitchen play.”

Gonzales is charged with felony counts of unlawful contact with a minor and interference in the custody of children, along with misdemeanor charges that include corruption of minors and stalking.

Bail was set at 10 percent of $25,000 and Gonzales was lodged in Blair County Prison on Friday. A preliminary hearing is slated for Wednesday at Central Court.