HOWELL, Mich. (WJBK) - Michigan State Police arrested a man accused of exposing himself to a little girl in Howell.
The man allegedly flashed his privates while the child was shopping at Meijer with her mother and baby brother.
Like so many protective moms, Krystle Coates never takes her eyes off her young children, but even that wasn't enough to protect her 5-year-old daughter against a sexual predator.
"I felt so helpless because I did what was normal," Coates said. "I was watching her so much I didn't notice this gentlemen and this still happened."
"I think it’s heart-breaking too, that a young mom and her two young kids can't go to a grocery store without something like this happening," said her husband Nick Coates.
Krystle says it happened when she asked her 5-year-old daughter to put a water bottle back. She was watching her little girl, but beyond her vision there was an older man who exposed himself to the young child right in the middle of Meijer in Howell.
Likely scared and shocked, Krystle says her 5-year-old didn't explain what happened until they were safely in the car driving away.
"I was like 'Honey what you mean, what happened?' and she went into full detail," Krystle said. "She told me he revealed himself to her, that he smiled at her and made her feel uncomfortable and that he was wearing black pants, he had a mustache, a baseball hat with a baseball on the hat."
Krystle immediately contacted Meijer and the Michigan State Police. She says the store pulled the surveillance video and thanks to their daughter's extremely detailed description which allowed investigators to identify the suspect who happened to check out at Meijer leaving his personal information behind.
Less than 48 hours later, police arrested 48-year-old Troy Creekmore - a registered sex offender - who was busted for 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct involving another child back in 1996.
The Coates want their experience to serve as a warning to parents but also give credit to police, who made them feel safe once again.
"There is a big negative narrative going on right now about our police departments," Nick said. "But for us when we needed them when we were our weakest, they were here. And the young lady who came out here couldn't be more professional - and in a matter of hours they got this gentleman."
The Coates say their daughter is doing better now and they are all glad the suspect has been caught.