DELAND, FL – A Volusia County man who sent two girls running for help after they said he followed them outside a DeLand-area gas station has been arrested on stalking charges. According to authorities, around 7 p.m. Thursday, Volusia deputies responded to a Circle K gas station at 2185 W. New York Ave. outside DeLand. There, a Circle K employee explained two girls came running into the store and were so scared they couldn’t speak. The girls handed the employee a cell phone with their mom on the line, and the mom explained the girls were fleeing from an older man in a gray car who had been following them.
The employee had the girls wait safely with her behind the counter until law enforcement arrived, and another witness went outside to get the tag number of a gray vehicle spotted at one of the gas pumps.
Responding deputies learned the girls were walking south on Grand Avenue after buying drinks at the Circle K when they noticed an oncoming car pulling over on their side of the road, facing them. They crossed to the other side of the road, but as they passed the car, the driver said something to them, sped away, and then turned around to follow them. They said the driver tried to speak to them again, but the girls took off running back to the store, dropping their drinks and money. Deputies canvassing the area found their Polar Pops on the ground, still cold with ice spilling out, and some dollar bills nearby.
Both girls were able to describe the suspect, his clothing and his car, and around 9:30 p.m. deputies located the vehicle at another convenience store at 1098 W. International Speedway Blvd., DeLand. Upon contact, the driver asked: “Is this about the two girls from earlier?”
The driver, identified as 55-year-old Kevin Rich of Orange City, told deputies he had pulled over on the side of Grand Avenue to smoke some crack and masturbate. He denied following the girls and claimed they were just startled by the activity he was engaging in.
A criminal history check revealed Rich has 24 prior felony charges and 16 prior misdemeanors, but no sex offenses or stalking charges. Rich was charged with two counts of aggravated stalking of a minor and two counts of attempted lewd or lascivious exhibition to a minor.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who has experienced a similar incident to contact detectives at 386-943-7866, via the non-emergency line at 386-248-1777 or 911 in an emergency.