At approximately 7:57 am, on Friday, March 6, 2015, deputies responded to Combee Elementary after being advised that a Polk County Sheriff’s Office School Crossing Guard had been battered by a parent.
Through the investigation, deputies learned 70-year-old Maria Hengel was at her post located on Woodland Avenue at Combee Elementary, when a woman, later identified as 28-year-old Kierra Shalante Harris, DOB 4/28/1986, 2646 Jungle Street, #1, Lakeland, stopped her car and directed a boy to exit the vehicle and cross the street before Ms. Hengel could stop traffic.
Ms. Hengel told the child not to cross until she could assist him. At that time, Harris exited her car, and approached Ms. Hengel using profane language. As Harris neared, she then struck Ms. Hengel in the chest with a closed fist using enough force to knock Ms. Hengel backwards, but not to the ground. A passerby came to Ms. Hengel’s aid ensuring she was not struck again.
Witnesses told deputies Harris then left the area displaying a vulgar hand gesture toward Ms. Hengel.
Harris is charged with Battery on a Person 65 Years or Older. She was booked into the Polk County Jail.
“I’m outraged that anyone would strike a 70-year-old person, much less a Polk County Sheriff’s Office School Crossing Guard who is trying to protect children,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “Ms. Harris’ actions are inexcusable. She now understands that if anyone strikes our Crossing Guards, they will have time to think about their actions in the Polk County Jail.”