Police: Customers stop sex offender taking photos

Police: Customers stop sex offender taking photos

Credit: Kendahl Tuttle

Police arrest a man suspected of taking photos of young girls inside a Fred Meyer and a Wal-Mart in Tumwater, Wash., June 7, 2013. Police identified him as Randy Russell Smith, a registered sex offender. Police said Fred Meyer customers apprehended him after seeing him taking the photos.

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on June 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM

A convicted child rapist who was allegedly photographing children at two Tumwater stores was arrested Thursday after being held down by the father of one of the girls.

Tumwater Police said 54-year-old Randy Russell Smith is suspected of taking photos of a 6-year-old girl inside Wal-Mart. The girl's mother told the store's employees. They reviewed surveillance video and saw that a man appeared to have followed the child and took photos using his cell phone. Police said employees also also saw the man taking photos of other children.

While officers investigated the Wal-Mart incident, police said the man was caught and apprehended by customers at the Fred Meyer next door while taking pictures of a girl in a dressing room.

Eric DeWitt tackled and held the suspect down until police arrived. DeWitt, a father of two from Olympia, said he saw the man kneeling underneath a changing room stall as DeWitt's six-year-old daughter was trying on a bathing suit.

"I asked him what he was doing," said DeWitt, "He said 'Nothing, nothing, nothing."

When the man walked away DeWitt said he told the man, "You're not going anywhere." He said he used some "old wrestling moves from high school" to hold the man down.

DeWitt said he's having a hard time processing what happened.

"Something was taken from me last night that's going to take a very, very long time to get back," said DeWitt.

He added that his children don't know what happened and he's alright with that.

"They slept like rocks last night," said DeWitt, "Me, not so much."

Police said Smith was booked into the Thurston County Jail for voyeurism.

Smith was convicted of first degree child rape in 1990 and spent nearly 18 years in prison. He is a registered sex offender but is listed as a transient.

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