‘Piggyback Bandit’ visit to Falkville leads to change in school pep rallies

FALKVILLE, Ala. - Morgan County Schools are changing the open nature of its pep rallies after a Washington state man was arrested for jumping on a football player's back.

Following the arrest of Sherwin Shayegan, 35, Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins said they are going to make sure future events at schools in the district are coordinated so school staff knows who is coming in.

Shayegan was charged with harassment after authorities said he showed up at a Falkville High School pep rally Oct. 12. Police said he jumped on a football player's back and handed him a note thanking him for a piggyback ride.

People from the community attend pep rallies at the school, but Hopkins said from now on school staff would coordinate where people will be allowed to enter and exit the school gym.

"One thing we're going to do is we're going to create a special area just for visitors, for family members and those, where they can sit and be part of the pep rally but they wont interact with the students," Hopkins said. "Also, we’re going to coordinate where we are going to allow people to enter and exit the gymnasium."

Hopkins said they also won't publicize pep rallies on social media, and they will reinforce that students should not engage with strangers.

Shayegan has a long criminal history of similar incidents across the country and became known as the "Piggyback Bandit" after several arrests going back as far as 2008. Just like previous reports, Falkville police said Shayegan handed the teen a note after jumping on his back.

"The note in essence said 'You have a nice butt, you look good in those shorts you're wearing, thanks for the piggy back ride,'" Falkville Police Chief Chris Free said. "He has prewritten notes in place with money amounts inside of them -- so that wherever he goes, he's ready to do what he has to do."

The teen went home and told his mother, who called police. Officers traced him to Hoover, where an Uber driver told police Shayegan was getting piggyback rides at a Walmart. He was arrested and brought back to Falkville.

Authorities were still holding Shayegan without bond on the misdemeanor harassment charge Tuesday morning and said they were looking into whether he can be charged with more serious crimes.

Free said Shayegan has a Nov. 31 court date in Morgan County, and that police in New Jersey also have charges for him. Police there are working to see if they can extradite him there, Free said.