A teenage boy was out shopping with his mom when something sinister caught his eye: a “demonic”-looking guy tailing a little girl. His mom – who had also spotted the man – tried to pull the teen away, but he was having none of it. And when he saw what the creepy man did next, the boy knew exactly what he had to do.
At the time of the incident, Cameron Cook was a 17-year-old student from South End in Boston, Massachusetts. And when he wasn’t working on assignments from his high school, Catholic Memorial, he could sometimes be found at home, helping his younger sibling with her homework.
One weekend in the middle of November 2016, however, Cameron was out shopping with his mom at Target in the South Bay Center. And as they wandered the aisles of the store, something – or someone – disturbing got the teenager’s attention.
Indeed, the look on the strange man’s face – which Cameron could only describe as “demonic” – was enough to raise alarm bells. So much so, in fact, that the teen kept an eye on the oddball from afar and watched as his behavior grew increasingly disturbing.
Cameron’s mom, Heather, had seen the man, too. As she described to Fox 25 Boston, “I saw the look in his eyes. It was bone chilling.” Not liking what she had seen, she urged her son to step away. But call it instinct if you like, something was telling the teen to stick around.
And it’s lucky he did because the sinister man’s behavior became even stranger. His mom was so disturbed by the man’s conduct, in fact, that she wanted to get away as quickly as possible. It was then, however, that Cameron spotted something truly disturbing.
“I seen the guy grabbing himself,” Cameron recalled to CBS Boston. “And my mom goes, ‘Cam, let’s go, keep walking.’ I was like, no, something’s going on.”
Cameron also noticed that while the stranger was grabbing himself, his sights were trained on a 12-year-old girl. She was pushing a shopping cart around the store on her own. At first, the teenager was unsure of whether the man and the young girl knew each other.
So Cameron followed the pair for a little longer – and soon it became obvious that they didn’t know each other. Indeed, upon closer inspection, it became clear to the teenager exactly what the “demonic” man was up to. And it was something that no one would ever want to see.
“He started rubbing himself,” Cameron told Fox 25 Boston. “I thought, ‘That’s weird.’ Then, as she would be going down the aisles he would be following her.” And as the teenager followed the man further, he became more and more concerned for the young girl.
As Heather described to CBS Boston, “I was close enough that I could smell the liquor coming from his mouth. It was horrible.” Everything about the man was repulsive, it seemed. But then, as Cameron watched, the man did something that caused him to react.
The girl, still unaware that she was being followed, bent down to grab something. As she did so, the creepy man rubbed his genitals against her. Cameron saw what the predator had done, but he didn’t think that the girl realized what was happening.
Describing the moment to CBS Boston, Cameron said, “He made contact with her, he rubbed himself against her and she didn’t even notice it. She probably thought someone just brushed by her.” But the teenager had seen enough and knew that he needed to step in.
“I confronted him,” Cameron recalled to CBS Boston. “I said, ‘Excuse me, do you know her?’” However, the man responded in a telling way, and it didn’t seem to match Cameron’s question. Indeed, the man’s reaction was one that the teen described as sending a shiver down his spine.
“He was like, ‘I’m not a pervert, I’m not a pervert,’” Cameron said to CBS Boston. “That’s the first thing he said to me, and I was like, ‘I didn’t ask you that.’” Despite the man’s appearance, too, the teenager was not intimidated, and he would not be cowed.
“He was big and Cameron had no fear at all,” Heather said to CBS Boston. “He just stood firm on the fact that he knew what this man was doing was wrong.” At Cameron’s recommendation, the man split, swearing and protesting his innocence as he went.
Heather and Cameron notified the store and its security to the sinister man and what had happened. Surveillance footage, which was handed in to the police after the incident, showed the man leaving in a car that had been waiting for him outside.
And the victim of the incident? It’s believed that her mom was in the bathroom and had left her daughter to wander the store unsupervised while this was going on. While parents may think that their kids are safe in familiar surroundings, then, this incident serves as a shocking reminder to keep them close by.
A month after the incident, Cameron was honored by the Boston Celtics basketball team. At every home game, the team recognizes a citizen for outstanding contributions to the community through the “Heroes Among Us” program. In December 2016 it was given to Cameron for his actions that day.
“I’m very proud of him, but it’s totally within his character,” Heather told CBS Boston. “He’s not afraid to do what’s right.” And while the girl’s mom was grateful for Cameron’s actions, the teen remained humble. “I’m just happy I was there to protect her,” he said. “Because you never know what could have went on.”