Eric DeWitt took his daughter swimsuit shopping Thursday June 6 at a Fred Meyer in Tumwater when he says he saw a man trying to take pictures of his daughter while she was changing.
Eric told Dori that his son was on the boy’s aisle, while his six-year-old daughter was trying on bathing suits in the girl’s aisle of the children’s section.
“I walked out of the [girl’s] dressing room, shut the door, walked around the corner to go check on my son, who was in the boys aisle. I come back around to make sure everything was going okay with her, and lo and behold there’s a guy on hands and knees with a camera phone,” said Eric.
That man was 54-year-old registered sex offender Randy Russell Smith. Police say Smith spent 18 years in prison for raping a 3-year-old in 1990 and just finished his sentence.
It didn’t matter that Smith had 100 pounds on Eric DeWitt. When he saw the man looking under the door of the changing room, he leapt into action.
“I just yelled at him,” said Eric. “He stood up and started back-pedaling real quick and says he’s doing nothing.”
“At that point I chased him out because right then and there we were in between where the clothing racks were. There’s not a lot of room to move at that point in time. This guy’s as wide as the aisle-way to begin with,” he said.
Eric asked bystanders for help and he held the man down until police arrived.
Dori has three daughters. He thought Eric used remarkable restraint in holding the man down rather than beating him senseless.
But Eric says the real hero is his son, who told his young daughter to stay in the dressing room and made sure she was safe. He doesn’t think his children fully understand what happened, and he’s hoping to keep it that way.
Earlier in the same day, according to police, a mother shopping at Wal-Mart said that Smith was using his phone to take pictures of her 6-year-old daughter. He got away after the mother confronted him. Another parent in the same store said Smith was acting suspicious in the men’s restroom standing next to his son at a urinal.
While police were investigating at the Wal-Mart, they got the call from the Fred Meyer next door.
Smith was charged Friday with two counts of voyeurism and is being held on $500,000 bail.