A man who allegedly flashed a young child at a local store has been arrested, thanks to a wealth of tips from the public.
The Somerset Police Department at around 12 p.m. Thursday released information about a Feb. 13 incident at Walmart in Somerset in which a male allegedly exposed himself to an 11-year-old boy in the toy section of the store.
Within just a few hours, the suspect, Drew Eric Irvin, 24, of Science Hill was arrested for first-degree indecent exposure.
“The public really stepped up to the place on this for us,” said Lt. Shannon Smith, with SPD. “The public did exactly what we asked them to do.”
Within minutes of SPD’s Facebook post on the incident, which also included surveillance video of the alleged flasher, and a live broadcast on the story from a news channel, tips started flooding in.
Smith said SPD received tips through its anonymous phone tip line and its newly established “See-hear-Report” text and web tip program.
“One of the tips had some basic information about the suspect, and we only knew the tipster by his or her code number,” said Smith. “Our detectives were able to communicate with the tipster and ask some key questions that gave us some conclusive information about the suspect.
“The ‘See-Hear-Report’ program had its first big test, and we are very satisfied with its performance,” Smith added. “ ... It really impressed with offering the public a confidential, anonymous way to give information.”
Within minutes of the first tip, the suspect was identified and detectives had his residence under surveillance.
The hunt for the suspect began on Feb. 13 after SPD says a man approached an 11-year-old boy at Walmart . The boy was in the toy section while his mother shopped nearby.
The suspect, later identified as Irvin, allegedly asked the boy if he’d like to purchase diapers from him, and the boy declined.
Then, the man exposed himself before the boy left to find help. The 11-year-old told a store employee who helped him find his mother and notify police.
Smith said it appeared Irvin didn’t know the 11-year-old victim.
“He was totally unknown to him at the time,” said Smith. “That’s one thing that concerns us the most is the victim in this appeared to be randomly targeted.”
Surveillance footage captured images of Irvin as he walked throughout the store. Those images were circulated among social networking sites and by local and regional media.
By Thursday afternoon, Irvin had been arrested. Det. Chris Gates took Irvin into custody, and he was lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center.
According to his Facebook page, accessed on Thursday evening, Irvin has a degree in Christian Ministry and he wants to become a youth minister.
Currently, SPD detectives and officers, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are executing a search warrant related to the case. Additional charges are possible.
Smith said SPD is looking into the possibility that there may have been additional victims.
“There are some other incidents that are under investigation that we’re going to look into a little bit further,” said Smith. “There are some other people that he may have been in contact with.”