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Putnam County deputies warn public about man targeting women in Palatka

Putnam County deputies are warning the public in the downtown Palatka area about a man targeting women.

According to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, a man with a thick accent who speaks with "broken "English" has approached women seen walking alone.

The man would then ask the woman if they can help him find his car or where the nearest Indian restaurant is.

"Often he has tried to get these women to follow him back to his car to either look at directions or assist him with his vehicle," official stated.

The man possibly drives a sedan and has reportedly targeted women in the courthouse parking lot, downtown by the riverfront and near 2nd Street.

Palakta police says they have increased patrons in the area due to the man.

They are encouraging anyone who may see someone appearing to act like the man described to call 911 and do not approach him.

Deputies said they found several posts of the encounters on social media but none were reported to 911, therefore they do not have an accurate description of the man.

Kelly Lafley runs a hair salon in downtown Palatka.  She said the man police are looking asked her if she was single and tried to get her to sit with her on her couch.

“It was really creepy,” Lafley said.  “When he sat on the couch and patted the couch that was it for me. I knew he was a creep, I knew he was dangerous.  I was by myself, and so he could tell that I had kicked into defense mode.”

“I was scared,” she added.

Exclusive surveillance video shows the man entering and leaving several stores on St. Johns Avenue, just down the street from Lafley.

“He was very spooky,” said beauty store owner Ashley Oliver.

Oliver said the man entered her store several times and refused to leave.

“He was adamant about being in here with just us two girls,” Oliver said.  “I really don’t know what could have happened if we weren’t like on our toes.”

Police said the man has been telling people he’s from South Carolina, but that hasn’t been verified.

They said he may be traveling in a dark blue Volkswagen.