Clearwater police are stepping up patrols in the Westfield Countryside Mall parking lot after a woman and her two preschoolers were almost carjacked.
On Sunday, surveillance cameras caught a glimpse of a man who police say went on to hold a young mother at gunpoint.
The man took off after another car drove up and spooked him.
Police are most curious about a move that he makes in the video, a casual stretching motion that they say may be distinctive to him.
"If he was casing people or if he was going in to gather himself? On the video, we are trying to figure out if he's stretching, or what he's doing," said Clearwater police spokesman Rob Shaw.
After his "casual" move, police say he accosted a 24-year-old in the parking lot. She had two preschoolers.
He showed a gun and demanded the car. She begged him not to hurt her or her babies. He only ran away after another car drove up.
"Things could have gone really bad, he pulls out the handgun, pulls the slide on the handgun, who knows what could have happened?" asked Shaw.
Clearwater officer Kim Kilian has increased urgency as she makes her own kind of "shopping" run around the mall.
In light of the attempted carjacking, police are "shopping" extra carefully for suspicious people.
"I'm looking for the person who stands out," said Kilian. "The person (who is) zigzagging in between cars, maybe that doesn't have any bags, who is kind of lingering in the parking lot."
Kilian is watching people with children, and those who walk alone to their cars. It's sad, but true, they can be targets.
"Sometimes the kids are crying, you're pushing the stroller, trying to carry your bags, and the cell phone's ringing. You're definitely not going to be as alert," said Kilian.
Jessica Burrows, who came shopping Monday with her husband and newborn, said she's spooked.
"I won't change his diaper in the car. I won't quickly feed him. I will be putting him in and getting out of there," Burrows said.
The head of the mall said they're nearly certain this is the first carjacking they've had here, and this is one of the safest malls in the area.
If you recognize the guy in the video, call police.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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