BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Burlington police are thankful a group of parents were aware of their surroundings and reported a man behaving suspiciously at a city park. That led to the arrest of a registered sex offender.
Burlington police say they got the call from a group of parents at the Burlington Arboretum at Willowbrook Park on Tuesday afternoon. They said they were concerned about a man they say was hanging around the playground area taking pictures.
A high school student who comes to the park for lunch every day says she was at the Burlington Arboretum at Willowbrook Park around the time of the incident.
“My friend and I … were sitting at the picnic tables up at the canopy area, and we saw an older gentleman get out of his car and start walking towards the playground. And he did have his cell phone out. He was acting like he was texting people or …scrolling … I noticed that he was taking pictures of the playground,” said Adrianna Aylsworth, a high school student.
She was surprised to learn that the man was a registered sex offender. Later police arrested him. Parents at the park reported him saying he was taking pictures on the playground.
“A little scary because I am under 18 … and my little brother comes out here all the time. So that kind of made me a little mad knowing that that happened because I would not like my little brother to have to go through that,” Aylsworth said.
Many parents who did not want to go on camera also say they are worried and plan to stay on high alert when going to the playground.
Police say thanks to concerned parents providing them with a description of the man and getting his license plate number, they arrested 69-year-old Jimmy Shue and charged him just one hour after responding to the call.
“If you’re a sex offender and you’re on the registry then you have certain areas that you’re not allowed around, such as daycares, schools, parks, things where children normally congregate, you’re not allowed to be there,” said Lt. Jeffrey Kology, with the Burlington Police Department.
Burlington police urge parents to maintain situational awareness like the parents who reported this incident, telling them to trust their instincts and to call 911 if they notice something unusual.
“The people that called it in were paying attention to their surroundings,” Kology said. “They saw this individual that clearly was doing some things that didn’t fit in.”
Shue is at the Alamance County Detention Center with a secured bond of $250,000.
Burlington police are still investigating.