CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The man suspected of attacking a 6-year-old girl in a Florida women’s restroom Friday night has turned himself in.
Clearwater police say Ricky Blake Thompson, 18, of Umatilla, turned himself in Monday. Police say they received numerous tips after releasing surveillance photos of Thompson.
Thompson is charged with battery. He said “it was an accident (and) that he went into the wrong restroom,” Clearwater police spokesperson Rob Shaw said.
“I’m not sure when he realized he was in the women’s restroom,” Shaw added.
Thompson said he was there that night to pick up his young son from his estranged wife, according to the Clearwater Police Department. Surveillance photos show two women and the child.
The suspect told police he accidentally went into the women’s bathroom. On his way out, the 6-year-old girl saw him from inside her partially open stall and she screamed, Thompson told police. Thompson said he panicked and tried to put his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming. That’s when, he told police, she fell to the floor.
“She panicked and screamed at the sight of a man in the women’s restroom and he then panicked,” Shaw said Thompson said police.
The crime has parents concerned. “It’s just scary that anybody can be in the bathroom waiting for anyone for that matter. It doesn’t even have to be a small child,” Wendy Ackerman said.
Ackerman said she has a game plan for public restroom visits. “My children don’t go into any restrooms without me or my husband. Doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female restrooms, we all go together,” she said.
Cops are reminding parents about restroom safety with small children. “If families have an option, if there’s a women’s restroom, a men’s restroom and a family restroom, to use that family restroom when you have a child that age,” said Rob Shaw with the Clearwater Police Department.
Besides a son, Sara Rose also has a 6-year-old daughter the same age as the little girl attacked in this Macy’s restroom. “No mother should let their kid go to the bathroom by themselves. I don’t care if you’re a father, mother, whoever, don’t let your kid go to the bathroom by themselves,” she said.
James Tudtud, owner of Empower Gym, also gave parents advice. “Being a 6-year-old child, they can’t really do a whole lot to injure a fully grown attacker,” Tudtud said.
They may not be able to do a lot but you can certainly teach them, said Tudtud, who teaches self-defense and has two children of his own.
“You say it. You scream. You attack, and you escape,” he added.
In the Macy’s attack, the girl’s father was close to the restroom.