A man in Shelton is under investigation after police say he grabbed an 8-year-old girl inside Walmart and attempted to sexually assault the child in front of her father.
The 32-year-old man was arrested at the store following the May 8 incident, according to the Shelton Police Department.
KIRO Radio spoke to the girl's father, Justin, who said he stopped by Walmart with his 4-year-old and 8-year-old daughters to buy them a treat as he usually does on Friday.
Justin's last name is being withheld to protect the victim's identity.
“We were walking through the store as we always do, and my 8-year-old was behind me and all of a sudden I turned around — she was literally right behind me — and this guy came out of nowhere and bear-hugged her from the back," Justin told KIRO Radio.
Justin told KIRO Radio he went after the stranger, who put his daughter on the ground.
“He was much bigger than I was. He ended up removing my daughter’s pants and underpants. That’s when I went into really crazy mode and was able to somehow push him off," Justin said.
Detectives say the suspect exposed himself to the family.
“I was screaming for help . . . all of a sudden a huge group of people surrounded him. I took my daughters to an aisle and waited for police to show up,” Justin said.
Shelton police say the suspect is a transient from California. He faces kidnapping and assault charges.
“I don’t really care about what happens to him, but I definitely don’t want him to be able to do this to anybody else,” Justin said. “That’s my concern. To keep everybody safe.”
Justin's daughter was not physically hurt. He told KIRO Radio she's doing OK. Parents n Shelton like Abbie Lee-Crain are worried about her.
"To know that it was done with her father right there, does she even feel safe anymore at all?" Lee-Crain said.
Justin told KIRO Radio he's talking to counselors about how to handle the traumatic incident. Police say the family met with a victim's advocate Wednesday. Justin has a message for other parents.
“Even when you think you are as safe as you possibly can be, anything can happen in an instant,” he said. “It’s important for me to share this story to tell parents to hold their kids a little tighter.”
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