I was enjoying my daily walk Saturday afternoon when I noticed a police car patrolling the neighborhood. I gave the officer a friendly wave. Then I saw another squad car, and another and another. Before long, a neighbor stopped to warn me about a man who’d been sought for weeks by local police and spotted on my route. A young woman playing outside with her baby recognized him from homeowner group alerts and reported seeing him suspiciously ducking between houses. Police swarmed the area to locate the man they deemed a danger.
The good news: Dallas police captured 27-year-old Carlton Price near Skillman and Abrams in the parking lot outside Sugarfire Barbecue just two hours after the woman’s first report. He was arrested on outstanding felony warrants, and the investigation is ongoing. Police say further charges are possible.
Price is innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The bad news: Neighbors have been reporting problematic behaviors by an individual matching Price’s description for weeks. At the time of his arrest, this man had just approached a woman inside SuperTarget to comment on the beauty of her young daughters. He was caught on Ring video Friday pleasuring himself on a back-alley gas meter near Clover Valley and Heatherdale not far from Forest Meadow Junior High. He was run off the Skyview Elementary campus by officers who spotted him sitting on a bench a few days before that. He’s been reported on the White Rock Creek Trail in various states of undress, and he was arrested in the alley behind Whitehurst and Arbor Park near Skyview Elementary about a month ago. In March, he exposed himself to a nanny and child.
Rachel O’Connor, the woman who says Price approached her at SuperTarget Saturday, says she appreciates the work of Dallas police officers, who’d sent out photos of the man and warnings to residents in her neighborhood asking them to be on the lookout. They advised calling 9-1-1 and using certain words to flag the incident as a current emergency, such as “prowler” and “active situation.” She read the alert in her car just before she entered the store and encountered Price. She followed their instructions and witnessed his arrest.
The woman with the baby, who asked that I not share her name, also had high praise for Dallas cops, who communicated closely with her to request information and to share frequent updates. They took the perpetrator’s actions seriously, as evidenced by the large number of officers sent to search for him Saturday.
But he’s been arrested before, and he won’t stay locked up forever.
So, what can neighbors do if they encounter Price, or any other person, engaging in indecent exposure?
Indecent exposure refers to the criminal act of exposing one’s private parts in a public place. An advocacy group called Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault says it’s important to react quickly if this happens to you or a member of your family.
“Promptly remove yourself from the situation by walking away or asking for help from another person nearby. Once you are safe, immediately contact the police and describe the suspect and location where the exposure occurred,” they advise. “This will help to ensure your safety and increase the likelihood that the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted.”
The woman with the baby says she appreciates her homeowners’ group, which had been keeping up with various reports about the man and sharing them with neighbors. The alerts didn’t have her frightened or unwilling to take her child outside, she said. She simply remained aware of her surroundings, and that made the difference. That, and promptly calling the police.
“If you witness suspicious or criminal activity in your neighborhood,” agrees Kristin Lowman, DPD’s assistant director of public information, “you should call 911 and report the incident to your local police department.” Photos and home surveillance videos are helpful, as well.
O’Connor agrees these incidents don’t have her scared to leave her home or take her daughters to the park.
“If anything, this has made me feel much safer,” she says. “The moms in our neighborhood decided we’re not going to let this guy dictate where we go and what we do. The police were searching for him, but he kept slipping through their fingers. I feel like it was the moms who said, ‘No, you’re not going to do this to our kids. We’ll find you even if the police can’t.’”
O’Connor says she wants to be very careful before accusing someone who’s just out taking a stroll, but she’s also willing to trust her instincts when it comes to the safety of her family.
“If you have that feeling, trust your gut,” she says. “It gets back to basics — if you see something, say something.”