A woman who reported seeing a man masturbating in his van in Spring Hill said the man then followed her vehicle late Monday, according to deputies.
Eric John Walters, 39, of Brooksville, was arrested early Tuesday on a stalking charge, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said.
Walters was taken into custody at Barclay Avenue and Elgin Boulevard in Spring Hill after the woman identified him as the man she saw in the van, deputies said.
At 9:43 p.m. Monday, the woman went to a Circle K, at 14195 Elgin Blvd., and saw the man masturbating with his pants down in a white van outside the store, deputies said. She called authorities to report the incident. She said the van was possibly a Chrysler and provided a license plate number.
The woman said that after calling authorities, she drove off in her car and the van followed her from Barclay Road north to Cortez Boulevard, the sheriff’s office said.
The woman “said that he was afraid and sped down the road,” according to an investigator’s report.
About an hour later, the woman returned with her son to purchase a soda, the report said. As she approached Barclay and Elgin in the left-turn lane, a white van was behind her, the report said. She said she intentionally drove to the far right lane and made the right turn to find out if the van was following her, and the van did, investigators said.
The woman said she drove into the Circle K parking lot and saw that the van’s driver was the same man she had previously reported to authorities, the report said.
“She intentionally drove in and out of the Circle K parking lot to
confirm her suspicion that the person was following her” and “the van followed her every move,” the report said.
She said she exited the parking lot three times, and each time the van did the same, the report said. After the third time, the van parked across the street from the store at Cadence Bank, 14211 Powell Road, and the man “was watching her,” the report said.
After a few minutes, the van left and a deputy who responded to the woman’s original report had stopped the van at a stoplight at Barclay and Elgin, the report said.
The man admitted going to the Circle K about 10 p.m. to purchase a drink but changed his mind and left the store, the report said. He denied masturbating there but said he did sit in his car for a few minutes, the report said.
He told the deputy he returned to the store later but did not give a reason why, the report said. He told the deputy he drove around the parking lot a few times because he was texting on his cellphone and did not want to be on the road while doing so, the reported.
While the man was being interviewed, the woman identified him as the man who followed her.
Walters was taken to the county jail and released late Tuesday after posting bail of $7,500. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims. An arraingment was set for Nov. 27, according to jail records.