Police in a Massachusetts town have opened a criminal investigation into a report that a Black woman was followed by a man and allegedly accused of suspicious behavior.
Julia Santos told police that she had seen an ad on a Groveland community Facebook page on Monday afternoon, where someone was giving away excess dog food. The 21-year-old says she then drove to the house, located about a mile from her own home, and picked up the free dog food.
Groveland is about 34 miles north of Boston.
As she left for home, Santos told police a man began to follow her, including turning around his vehicle as she turned around in a different direction. “At this point, I’m checking my mirrors ever few seconds,” Santos told CNN.
“A hundred thoughts are rushing to my head as I realized I’m definitely being followed. I knew I couldn’t turn into my own driveway so I turned into a different street. Forgetting the street had no turn around point, my heart dropped as I realized I cornered myself,” Santos said.
Santos told police she then confronted the man, who allegedly accused her of suspicious behavior. Santos said she realized how serious the situation was about to get and pulled out her phone to start recording. In the video she can be heard telling the man, “quite frankly, I don’t feel safe right now,” to which the man responds “You don’t feel safe? I don’t feel safe with you driving around my neighborhood.”
According to police, another resident in the neighborhood then came out of her house and told the man to leave, which he did.
Groveland Police have identified the man and have interviewed him, according to the department. Police are not naming the man at this time, and CNN has attempted to reach out him for comment.
The investigation into the incident is still active and ongoing. A Groveland Police detective is assigned to the case, and criminal charges may be filed, the department said. As of Wednesday evening, no charges have been filed.
Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen expressed outrage about the situation, which caused Santos to feel unsafe in her own community, and that anyone would ever be made to fear for their safety in Groveland, according to a news release.
“On a personal note, I have lived in this area for my entire life and have been a police officer here for more than 30 years. I have met many of the families in Groveland, including the victim’s family, and watched families grow here. I am deeply disturbed by this situation. The fact that a resident of our town could face accusation and be followed around like a criminal should make everyone stop in their tracks and consider how we treat one another,” Chief Gillen said.
“Our job as police officers is to not only keep people safe but also feel safe in Groveland, and we will aggressively investigate this situation and do everything we can do to ensure it is not repeated.”
Santos told CNN that she is still a little shaken up, but that the support from her community is making her feel better.