Jackenzy Pierre threatens 8-year-old girl with knife in robbery attempt in Reading, police say

Suspect, 18, charged, jailed on $50,000 bail

Man tries to rob girl, 8, walking to store, police say

READING, Pa. - A little girl received a big scare in Reading Tuesday after she was nearly robbed at knife-point.

A Reading man threatened the girl with a 6-inch blade while she was on her way to a corner store to buy carrots for her grandmother, said police.

"He was running after me and he said, 'Give me your money,'" said Alex Skwiat, who managed to run away. "All I want is my mommy or big sister because he scared me."

Alex cried herself to sleep Tuesday night, and now she's too afraid to walk outside by herself.

"He was like, 'give me your money' with a knife, and then I was shaking," the girl said.

According to investigators, Alex was walking down North 10th Street to a corner store Tuesday afternoon to buy carrots for her grandmother's beef stew. She cut through a laundromat, and when she reached Perry Street, that's when she met her attacker, Jackenzy Pierre, said police.

Pierre, 18, was armed with a 6-inch kitchen knife and told the girl, "Give me all your money," said police.

"I went through the church down there because that's how scared I was, and then I went to the store," said Alex.

Alex ran away scared, but determined. She still bought the carrots for her grandmother, then told her mom what happened. She's very brave, but was left with a broken heart.

"Stuff isn't a joke. You scare a little kid for what reason. Now she's afraid," said Noel Hill, Alex's mother. "The crime in Reading has gotten so bad I feel like my kids will be safer somewhere else."

Officers subsequently found Pierre and the knife, and the girl identified him as the man who tried to rob her, according to court documents.

According to police, Pierre recently moved to Reading from Haiti. Now, he's facing charges that include threat of robbery, making terroristic threats and related offenses. He was committed to the Berks County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Pierre's mother said her son barely speaks English and claimed he's innocent.

"That's why maybe they asked him a question and he could not answer them, so they arrest him and put those charges on him," said Sherley Geffrard, Pierre's mother.

Alex's family said this was the final straw, and they plan to move to Virginia in two weeks for a fresh start.

Pierre's preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 23.

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