Man charged for taking photos with minors at Experience Columbia event

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 4:47 PM CST
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COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - One man has been charged after being accused of lying about his age to take photos with underage girls at Experience Columbia.

According to the Columbia Police Department, 23-year-old Salvador Mendez-Santiz was arrested Saturday, Nov. 27.

A Facebook post was made by someone who was there at the skating rink area of the event, recounting what they saw:

First off, I want to start this by saying THANK YOU to Columbia Mississippi Police Department and to the staff and...

Posted by Kasey Breazeale on Saturday, November 27, 2021

In the post, it details that Mendez-Santiz and another man skated towards a girl and pulled her in to take a photo. Another girl approached them, and she would then be pulled in also.

Staff members of the rink were then notified that the two men were not known by the girls and they did not have permission to take pictures with them.

A worker at the rink, along with another man, stopped Mendez-Santiz and the other person, who was later identified as his nephew, while they were trying to get out of the situation.

The two girls went back over to their guardians, and CPD officers arrived at the scene since they were already in attendance.

CPD was given the phone that the photos were being taken from and they found multiple pictures of situations and young girls.

It was noted that Mendez-Santiz and his nephew tried to lie about their age, saying they were 16 instead of being in their twenties and telling one of the girls the photo was for their “profile picture.”

Mendez-Santiz has been charged with one count of providing false information and one count of disorderly conduct.

Columbia Police Chief Michael Kelly spoke about the officers’ response to the incident.

“I can say with certainty that our event here in Columbia is probably one of the safest places you can go because of just the sure amount of police officers that we use to staff these events,” Kelly said. “We were literally able to have this guy in custody in seconds of being alerted because we had so many police officers that were there...”

Kelly also mentions how an incident like this could happen anywhere and that parents should be as watchful as possible towards their children.

“However, this could happen at the grocery store, the gas station, walking home from school, this could happen anywhere,” said Kelly. “So what our message to parents is, is we want you to be vigilant because evils exist and children were targeted. And we want parents to do that, which they’re supposed to do, parent. Keep an eye on their kids...”

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