BAYONNE — Police say a 43-year-old man lay on the floor of downtown store and began masturbating in front of children.

City resident Terrence Sheppard was arrested 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in the area of 23rd Street and Broadway after leaving the store.

Witnesses and store employees told police that Sheppard began touching himself after spending some time looking at items on the shelves.

People said he lay on the floor and began masturbating under his pants. When an employee confronted him, he stood up and continued, police said.

Although several people observed this, police do not believe that the youngsters were aware of what had happened.

Sheppard was charged with sexual assault, lewdness and child endangerment.

Sheppard has had previous run-ins with police, according to published reports and court records.

In March, he was charged with trying to punch a city cop after a drug store refused him entry because they had recognized him from a previous robbery.

In 2017, police said he and an accomplice stole a gold necklace from a city jeweler.

Later that year he was sentenced to two years of probation and served 85 days in jail after pleading guilty to making a third-degree terroristic threat.

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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.