LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lakeland family is warning other parents to be on the lookout after seeing a man masturbating in a public park.

According to the family, the incident happened on Sunday at the playground by Lake Mirror.

Kitty Brogran went to the park with her five grandchildren and her daughter-in-law. Brogan tells WFLA that while the kids played in the gated area, both adults noticed a man acting suspicious and watching the kids.

At first they just kept an eye on the man, thinking maybe he had a child there.

But Brogan soon noticed the man was masturbating.

“It was awful. It was clearly sickening. It still resonates with me, actually, in my gut that a man was doing that,” she said.

The family grabbed the kids and took off and eventually reported the incident to Lakeland police.

The family tells WFLA it was a black man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a black shirt, black sunglasses, black bandana and gray sweat pants. They describe him as tall and thin.

Brogan is a licensed clinical social worker who has heard from victims after traumatic experiences, but was surprised to witness something like this.

“It was just the shock of it. Even though I have, as a therapist, worked with people who are victims of sexual abuse, I’ve never witnessed what I would classify as a pedophile, walking around the park playing with himself appropriately,” Brogan said. “A pedophile is someone who has deviant sexual attraction to children, and in my opinion, he was walking around the park observing the children and getting some sexual gratification from it.”

Brogan hopes sharing by sharing this others will be more cautious.

“I don’t want to scare people to death. But just to be aware,” she said.

Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross tells WFLA if you are ever in this situation, leave right away and call 911. Gross said do not to take any photos of the person, as this could agitate them and the situation.

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