JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. – A case of public lewdness happened Sunday night in Johnstown, and police are continuing to investigate the report.
Police said they received a call that a man exposed himself in front of a child in the parking lot of a Johnstown Mall along Route 30A.
The incident happened a little after 5 p.m. Sunday at Yankee One Dollar. Store employees said the girl left her mother and went into a different aisle when she saw the man engaged in the act. The child then ran back to her mother, and store employees and police were alerted.
Alexis Cannizzo is a cashier at the store. She said she was working Sunday when the incident occurred.
"It's quiet. It's open," she said. "You wouldn't expect something like that to happen here, and it did."
Officers said they responded quickly but did not catch the suspect.
Chris Tyler, a mall janitor, chased the man out and provided authorities with a description of the vehicle he was driving. Police said they have a person of interest in the case.
"He's a sick individual," Tyler said. "What else are you going to do?"
Tyler said it's sad that children aren't protected enough to take a trip to the mall.
"It's getting worse, too, around here," he said. "It's sad."
Johnstown resident Mary Ann Bradbury agreed.
"Very sad in this day and age you know you would think your children are protected, and they're not," she said. "It's goes to show it can happen anywhere."
Employees at Peebles store in the mall said they've had to call police several times after people reported the suspect hiding behind the columns near the entrance performing lewd acts. Those employees said he was no longer allowed in the mall.
Cannizzo now says she'll be paying closer attention.
"Definitely would want to watch the kids when they come in here now," she said. "Wish it didn't happen, so I don't feel skeptical like that."