OAKDALE -- Oakdale police are investigating reports of a suspicious man who approached a toddler at a neighborhood park.
Brigid Hynes and her husband have only lived in Oakdale for a year but they’ve made a habit out of bringing their 2-year-old daughter to nearby a park along Burchell Hill Drive.
"So I was up here and the two toddlers were playing. They were playing just with this slide," Hynes said, showing FOX40 the playground where her daughter was playing Wednesday.
Hynes' 2-year-old and another child belonging to a family sitting on a nearby bench were playing just after 4 p.m. when Hynes says a suspicious man seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
"He didn’t look crazy or transient," she said. "There was nothing about him that was alarming except that he was holding his phone so close to the kids."
She continued to watch the man out of his line of sight.
"Once I didn’t see any other children, I was about to say, 'Hey, do you have any kids here?'" Hynes told FOX40. "And it was at that moment, just before I was going to speak, that he picked my daughter up and turned his body away."
"My immediate reaction was shock and kind of like disbelief," said Hynes' husband, Lonnie Gutierrez.
Hynes immediately confronted the man before he put down her daughter.
She called Oakdale police then her husband, who was at work at the time.
"Thankful that she was keeping such a close, watchful eye on her at the park," Gutierrez said.
The man is described as having a dark, medium complexion, standing at around 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a red shirt with black pants tied at the ankles.
"We’re hoping maybe some of these houses have their cameras set out to where they caught something," Hynes said.
While Hynes says others have come forward sharing stories of suspicious encounters with a man bearing the same description, she’s hoping he comes forward on his own.
"Unfortunately, you want to trust and assume you're safe and that’s how I am but it was a wake-up call," Hynes said.
Police have launched an investigation. If you check your home security cameras and see a man matching that description in your footage, contact Oakdale police. They are urging anyone who sees something suspicious to report it.