A substitute teacher in New York tried to take video and photos of a teenage student inside a school bathroom, police said.
Jeffrey Wellman, 42, of Albany, was arrested Tuesday at his home hours after the 17-year-old victim told police he noticed someone holding a phone beneath a bathroom stall divider at Shaker High School in Latham, the Times Union reports.
The startled student attempted to grab the man from underneath the stall and managed to take his own cellphone video of the suspect before he fled the bathroom and the school, police said.
“He tried to grab onto the guy and grabbed his pants underneath the stall but obviously it’s a fairly difficult situation and he was not able to hang onto him for very long,” Colonie police Lt. Bob Winn told WRGB. “But he did take his own cellphone and was able to capture at least some images of the suspect which included the ID tag hanging around his neck, which identified him as staff at the school.”
The suspect was identified as Wellman later Tuesday via the school’s surveillance footage with the help of the student’s video, according to investigators who praised the victim’s quick reaction.
The student was able to endure the “horrible experience” while defending himself and obtaining evidence of the crime, Winn said.
Wellman, who had been a substitute teacher for the North Colonie School District since 2014, is no longer working for the district, officials announced Wednesday.
North Colonie Central Schools Superintendent Joseph Corr also credited the student for notifying the district’s school resource officer immediately after the incident.
“We encourage students to speak up when they see something that is improper, inappropriate, wrong,” Corr told WRGB. “The student did that and we’re proud of this student and the student did the right thing.”
Wellman, who was charged with felony unlawful surveillance, was released from custody after being given an appearance ticket. He’s expected to return to court Feb. 26, the Times Union reports.
While Wellman has no prior criminal history, investigators believe “there might be other victims out there,” Winn said.