Police: Homeless Man Charged After Grabbing 5-year-old at a Rockville Park

The man was drunk when he began asking the child to play on the swings, police said.

A homeless man has been charged with attempted kidnapping after an incident with a 5-year-old child at a Rockville playground, police said.

John Harker, who police said is homeless but lives in Vernon, was taken into custody at 4:04 p.m. on Wednesday on an active warrant, police said.

In addition to the second-degree criminal attempt to kidnap charge, police said the 49-year-old Harker has been charged with second-degree breach of peace, second-degree threatening and two counts of risk of injury to a child, police said.

He was to appear in court on Thursday afternoon, a court clerk said.

His bond was set at $30,000, police said.

The incident took place on Monday at Talcott Park off Elm Street in Rockville, up the hill from the Downtown area, police said.

Just after school was let out, the 5-year-old was playing with a 15-year-old near a swing set at the park, police said. The 15-year-old's mom watches the 5-year-old regularly for a family friend and the 15-year-old takes the child to the park after school, police said.

A drunken Harker approached the two and asked the child to play on the swings with him, police said. The 15-year-old said no, but Harker persisted and eventually grabbed the child by the arm, police said.

A struggle ensued between Harker and the 15-year-old, who was trying to pull the child away, police said.

Several regulars at the park who know Harker yelled at him to let go, and he eventually did, police said. When the 15-year-old fled the scene with the 5-year-old, Harker chased them briefly but stopped at the edge of the park, police said.

Harker has an extensive criminal history in Connecticut and New Jersey, police said.

jim October 04, 2012 at 05:50 PM
What the heck! A few things here? First, was this guy let out early as a part of Malloy's early release policy? Please follow up with a more detailed report. Second, why is the 15 year older the only one fighting this pervert off? "The Regulars" who knew this scumbag only spoke up, but didn't step in? Third, I live across the street from that park, and was home at the time...here's the deal, at that time of day, it usually sounds like the all the kids are screaming for life and limb. The commotion caused by this incident sounded no different than any other day. It's impossible to tell the difference or I would have stepped out of my office, and defended the child. Lastly, is it impossible for the cops to stop these vagrants and give em a beat down every now and again? Stay classy Rockville!
Elle Fagan October 04, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Scary - thank you for the nice clear report.
pl October 04, 2012 at 11:15 PM
"Extensive criminal record"?? What will it take to lock this creep up? Second, what jim said - why didn't the "regulars" at the park do more to help these kids?? Great citizens!
Pete October 04, 2012 at 11:39 PM
This jack ass is very lucky there was not another human adult around( I don't count the regular scumbags there human or adults) I know a great number of people that would have loved to taken a 2x4 to him, and used him as a stress outlet. This guy needs to be beaten with a chain.
Sluggo October 04, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I couldn't help but notice that missing from this guy's charges was a charge for being intoxicated in a public park. Wasn't that just a citation passed by the town council in the last few months?? Laws like this are put into place to keep the drunk homeless bums out of our parks. The cops aren't dumb. They see the same faces, same offenders, all the the time. I get it...paperwork sucks, and charging these guys with a slap on the wrist seems like a waste of resources, but the safety of our children is VERY important. I hope Vernon Police use this incident as an example of exactly what we won't allow in our parks. At a casual glance, you can tell who belongs in the park and who does not. SHAKE THESE LOITERERS DOWN. Question them, Breathalize them if necessary, and if drunk, ticket/arrest them. Once you let them know they are UNWELCOME in our parks, they will go elsewhere. Let's not let a small handful of degenerates ruin it for the rest of us.
PJ October 05, 2012 at 12:01 AM
@ Pete The "scumbags" as you call them happened to be the people who saved this child from a possible abduction. Don't make assumptions about people whom you do not know and I won't make assumptions about a man who thinks that beating someone with a 2x4 would have been more effective than what was actually done. Let us not forget that this 5 year old is home.
Chris Dehnel (Editor) October 05, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Please read the Patch terms of use policy before commenting http://vernon.patch.com/terms I want to keep this comment stream going because it is something that needs to be discussed but it has the potential to start heading in a bad direction. I will caution everyone that if the discussion deteriorates into a lengthy personal back-and-forth or it becomes libelous toward a regular citizen or a suspect or a defendant, it will be cut off.
jim October 05, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Paula, we're all happy the boy is home. But he and the 15 year old will have this memory forever. It's sad.... As for the "Talcott Park Regulars" who knew the guy....the report didn't say they played an active role, other than yelling at him. Did they detain the offender after offence? Did they call the police? Did they walk the boys home? WHAT? It seems as if they just watched him walk away. 100% agree with Sluggo. More needs to be done with the Rockville vagrants, they are not welcome.
Pete October 05, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Beating him with a 2x4 would have been the right thing to do. The scum bags in the park "yelled at him they did not stop him from grabbing the child or chasing after him. Instead he is now having 3 meals a day and will have access to medical, dental and detox( which I am sure he will need) a 2x4 is quick and always leave a last memory that the next time could be worse. The looser is very lucky this father of 2 did not see this. I am not sure I would have stopped swinging until the police pulled me off of him. Paula, if this was your child what would you do? Sit him down and try to tell him that it is not nice to touch other people if they do not want to be touched?
cmmj October 05, 2012 at 02:26 AM
that shelter needs to be closed or moved....now.
Linda Valenti October 05, 2012 at 05:33 AM
So sad, what is this town/world coming to when we can't be in the park with our children and feel secure! I have 2 sweet grandsons that I bring to Henry Park. If anyone even tried to hurt my babies you would hear me scream all the way through Vernon!!!
Linda Valenti October 05, 2012 at 05:44 AM
I have to add ... there are a lot of homeless people in Vernon I see them every day! It is very sad... but it is not fair to say that because a person is homeless they are scumbags I would bet that plenty of those homeless people would have helped that little boy!!! We can't judge a person and know there situation until we have lived their life!
Emily October 05, 2012 at 12:36 PM
How do you know he was a pervert? He might have been a cannibal.
cmmj October 05, 2012 at 01:04 PM
you obviously can't brink them to that park..it's next to a shelter that houses drunks..
cmmj October 05, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I have seen numerous drunk homeless people walking around Rockville...
meowkats4 October 05, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I wish I could just sit in Court on Thursday and find Out -WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!! There is always two sides to a Story and I would like to know and hear both sides. Maybe Mr. Hacker heard or saw the 15 teen year old not being very nice (or saying mean things to him) to the little 5 year old.
C. DeMars October 06, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I recently walked the streets of Rockville, where I grew up and know many of the people around the park and Prospect street. People that are now struggling day to day with addiction. They are not scumbags, some of them have helped people out. Don't spread the hate, what does that say about you?


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