Deputies seek man seen groping girls

Man spotted at Walmarts in Westside Jacksonville

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – The Clay County Sheriff's Office is searching for a man it said approached two girls in the Branan Field Wamart in Middleburg around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Deputies said the man, believed to be in his late 40s to early 50s, tried to get the teenage girls to go to his home. When the girls refused and attempted to walk away, the man followed them, groped them and touched them inappropriately.

Detective Ryan Ellis said the man tried to have a conversation with the girls, and when they tried to walk away, the man continued trying to talk to them, "at one point actually grabbing both the girls and lifting up their shirt and kissing their stomach region."

Surveillance video shows the girls then pushed the man away.

The man is described by the victims as Hispanic, about 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 225 pounds. He has dark hair with some gray and was wearing a tan, button-up, short-sleeve shirt with a collar and light blue jeans with dark shoes.

It's unclear whether there may be other victims from that Walmart or any other locations, but the man was seen leaving the Branan Field Walmart on foot in the direction of Branan Field, deputies said.

The news has parents in the community concerned.

"You can't let them out of your eye anymore. Always have to have them in your eyesight," said Tammy Jewell, a concerned parent.

Investigators said the girls' parents were a few aisles over when the man approached them. The parents didn't see it happen, but the girls immediately told them what happened.

"After they told parents, they did the right thing -- contacted Sheriff's Office, that's when we responded," said Det. Ryan Ellis with the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

The man has also been spotted at the 103rd Street Walmart in Jacksonville, but no criminal activity was reported there, according to sources. So far, it doesn't appear the man has been involved with any other reported crimes.

Officials are now urging the community to be on the lookout for the man.

Anyone with any information on this incident or the man's whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-264-6512.

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