Silver Lake playground back to normal after unrelated incidents

A playground area in Dover’s Silver Lake Park was the scene of two police matters on Monday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

A playground area in Dover’s Silver Lake Park was the scene of two police matters on Monday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

DOVER — Two separate police-involved situations caused some uneasiness at Silver Lake Park Monday morning and amounted to no harm being done.

First, the Delaware State Police brought several vehicles into the parking lot off Kings Highway for a SCUBA team training exercise, and at least one passer-by took video, posted it to Facebook while unsure of what was happening.

A media call to state police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier confirmed that the gathering was a training exercise and nothing more.

A couple hours later, Dover police were called to the same Silver Lake Park beach and playground area for a reported unidentified man allegedly walking up to children, talking to them and acting strangely, authorities and park-goers said.

Police were called at 12:14 p.m., arrived quickly and began investigation into the alleged incident, according to spokesman Lt. Jason Pires. Officers located the man on a bridge over Silver Lake Park in the area of Division Street and Kings Highway.

After questioning, police determined that the man was harmless, authorities said.

“Our officers contacted the person who was involved and appeared to have slight mental issues, but at the time was not deemed to be a threat to the public,” Lt. Pires said.

Observers at the park estimated the incident lasted about five to 10 minutes before the man left the area.

Ruth Brown, of Dover, said she first ignored the shirtless man, but the commotion continued and her concerns grew.

“I wasn’t just concerned for my children, but for all the children here,” Ms. Brown said. “Someone acting that way shouldn’t be around kids.”

Several children and adults were in the vicinity as the man walked around and approached people for approximately 10 minutes, Ms. Brown said; the man began doing push-ups at one point, she said, and was also screaming at parents.

“He was yelling ‘I can’t believe they chased me away,’ ” Ms. Brown said.

Another person at the park described the situation as “weird” and said the man just didn’t seem to fit in to the peaceful scene. The man said ‘Hi, boys and girls’ to some children at the playground, and two women told him to get walking, the person said.

From there, the observer said the man went to the beach area and asked people if they were going for a swim. He also approached a children’s gathering under a pavilion, the person said.

Two men in the area sensed possible trouble developing and began following the man until he departed, Ms. Brown said.

“They stuck around just to make sure nothing bad happened,” Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown said police arrived within about five to seven minutes of her call, perhaps less.

“They got here very quickly,” she said. “It made me feel very safe.”

The park is typically trouble free, Ms. Brown said, and has a regular police presence with patrol cars passing through the parking lot.

At nearly 1 p.m., a Dover Police patrol car was parked near the Silver Lake Park entrance on Washington Street.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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