Social media personality Michaela Witter started a series on TikTok called “Solo Dates” — meant to showcase outings and activities that people can do alone, especially women.
But what happened to the 28-year-old at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Burbank made her feel completely stalked and violated.
What started as a trip to the bookstore to relax turned into an unnerving experience for Witter. Shortly after she arrived at the store, she says a stranger began following her before finally invading her space.
“It felt like anywhere I moved, he kept following me,” she recalled. “So I recorded just in case he was trying to say anything or do anything to me, but I definitely did not expect him to do this.”
In the video, the man is seen crouching down low and getting extremely close to Witter’s legs. He is later seen doing the same thing to another woman browsing nearby.
“I was so freaked out,” she said. “He was literally under me, so freaking close to me, so I decided to tell the front desk.”
Witter turned around and confronted the man, asking him what he was doing. He claimed he was tying his shoes.
“Which he wasn’t,” Witter said. “He was pretending to. His shoes were tied.”
Witter reported the incident to Burbank Police and posted the video to TikTok and social media.
She received a flood of reactions and responses to the video. Some people were skeptical, calling the scene staged, while others showed their full support and empathy.
“A lot of women were very sympathetic because they have experienced this harassment from men and stalking,” Witter said.
She still doesn’t know what the suspect was trying to do. She didn’t see a cell phone in his hand at the time either.
After posting the video, she discovered more chilling information about the suspect from her followers and authorities. The suspect is potentially the same man with a long criminal history of peeping, prowling and residential burglary in Glendale.
“Barnes & Noble took me more seriously and the police took me more seriously because of everyone who shared their stories,” Witter said. “It’s really scary and it’s scary that he is still out there.”
Witter said Burbank police are working with Barnes & Noble to gather more security footage of the suspect.
Investigators are also looking into whether he may be the same individual with a long criminal history of peeping, prowling and residential burglary in the area.
Anyone with information can call Burbank Police at 818-238-3000.