South Tampa mother warns stranger exposed himself to students walking home from school

Tampa police canvassed Palma Ceia neighborhood
Posted at 11:35 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 04:32:29-04

A south Tampa mother is warning neighbors about a suspicious man she claims is exposing himself to students walking home from school. 

Dawn Joyce has two children attending Plant High School.  Joyce posted on the social media app Nextdoor after her 9th grade daughter reported a strange man inappropriately touching himself in front of students. 

"Fearful because she walks home everyday with a friend and I've never thought twice about allowing them to walk home," said Joyce. 

Joyce says the man waited until her daughter and a friend were just steps away from his car when he swung open the door. 

"He was exposed and pleasuring himself," said Joyce.  "He had a smirk on his face and he was kind of laughing and he had dark sunglasses on."

The two girls darted inside Starbucks on Bay to Bay Boulevard to call for help. 

Joyce posted a description on Nextdoor stating the man had a white beard and Hawaiian shirt driving an older, tan sedan on Empedrado Street, behind the Starbuck's parking lot.  The post has generated more than 50 responses. 

Tampa police canvassed the area and alerted the neighborhood watch group. 

"It's unfortunate to see something like this happen with so many young students in the area," said Kelly Bridgeman, who lives on Empedrado Street.  "The elementary school is just a few blocks south of here, high school a few blocks north."

Joyce's daughter is now taking a different route to walk home from school and says she is reassured knowing neighbors are keeping a close watch. 

"I felt like the entire south Tampa neighborhood communities all were aware of what was going on and eyes were open, and that's the most important part, eyes open."