DES MOINES, Wash. -- Police arrested a Seattle man Friday after they believe he used a disguise to sneak into the women's bathroom at the Des Moines Public Library and use a cell phone to record unsuspecting library patrons.
Detectives are not releasing the name of the 40-year old man because charges haven't been filed in the case. He is expected to face one count of felony voyeurism.
Officers might not have caught the man if not for Traci Pigg, a Des Moines mother who took her son to the library Thursday afternoon, detectives said.
Pigg dropped her 13-year old son off for tutoring at the library and then went to use the bathroom near the entrance. The silence - and the smell of someone who hadn't showered - set off an alarm, she said.
"I just felt like something wasn't right," Pigg said. "I looked behind me and I didn't see anything at first. It wasn't until I actually got up and turned around that I could just see the tip of the phone."
Pigg says the phone was wedged near a bracket on the door separating the two stalls, about a foot and a half off the floor. She saw the very edge of an Android phone camera.
"It was barely poking through, but once it caught my eye, I just kinda panicked," Pigg said, "and just took my fist and punched the phone."
Pigg grabbed her stuff, ran outside, and yelled for help. She kept an eye on the door to the bathroom while library staff dialed 911.
The suspect - still wearing a long, dark skirt - took off running from there, said Sgt. Doug Jenkins of the Des Moines Police Department. The suspect ran down the street and hid under a trailer, but not before shedding his disguise in a black bag, Jenkins said.
"It's obviously alarming to the community. You would think, going into the restroom, it would be a private place," Jenkins added. "In a situation like this, your privacy's been invaded and that's obviously concerning."
Police say the suspect has no sex crimes in his history, and just a few traffic infractions on his record. Officers are still searching for the black bag the suspect discarded.
Investigators also wonder if the suspect is tied to two unsolved voyeurism cases at the Des Moines library from the past two years.
"I am completely horrified that some of the kids I know in there could've possibly in the bathroom with him in there alone," Pigg said, of this most recent case. "It's absolutely terrifying."