A total of 18 arrests were made across the county.
Operation Park Hopper, a sting conducted by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office resulted in nine arrests at two Ormond Beach parks.
In a press release about the sting. VSCO highlighted an incident at Bicentennial Park where 75-year-old Robert Warner told an undercover deputy that he was there looking for a sexual hook-up with a man.
Police say Warner walked to a picnic shelter at the park with the stranger, pulled out his penis and started masturbating in plain view and was immediately arrested on a charge of indecent exposure and committing an unnatural and lascivious act.
The sting was launched in response to complaints about lewd activity taking place at parks around the county and resulted in a total of 18 arrests. Sheriff Mike Chitwood announced the results of the operation in a news conference June 3 and said the arrests send a message.
“These types of activities impact the quality of life of our citizens,” said Sheriff Chitwood. “It’s important that we set the tone that our parks and trails are safe for families and children.”
It was no coincidence that the sting operation was timed to coincide with the recent close of the school year when children spend more time at local parks.
“The possibility of such (lewd) acts occurring in the presence of a child will increase, requiring immediate attention and enforcement,” deputies wrote in the operations plan that was kicked off May 30.
By the time the operation wrapped up June 2, deputies had made arrests at six different parks in Ormond Beach, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach, Deltona, and DeLand. Nearly all defendants were charged with indecent exposure and other related charges. Four of the defendants were additionally charged with battery for either groping or rubbing an undercover deputy.
“It’s disgraceful,” said Sheriff Chitwood. “There’s a bunch of dirty old men who their thrill is exposing themselves to other men in broad daylight, in the park. I don’t get it. But then again, I think most normal human beings would never get it.”
The defendants, the location of their arrest and their charges, are as follows:
- Robert Warner, 75, arrested at Bicentennial Park.
- Mario Alexander, 28, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- Christopher Barron, 55, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- Jerome Britt, 71, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- Robert Fonda, 45, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- Matthew Henrikson, 56, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- Erick Martinez, 43, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- James Stewart, 28, arrested at Riverbend Park.
- Arnold Wicker, 44 arrested at Riverbend Park.