• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Assaults on females prompt police safety tips

March 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
There's been a rash of recent incidents involving attacks on young women. That has people concerned about how to protect their family members.A composite sketch was released Friday of a man wanted for sexually assaulting a woman at knifepoint in Hemet Wednesday. At about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, a 32-year-old woman walking on the 26800 block of Yale Street was lured by a suspect into a vacant lot where she was assaulted at knifepoint.

Earlier the same day, police say the man depicted in the sketch tried to kidnap a 16-year-old girl in West Covina.

The South Hills High School student told police she was walking home when a man in a Toyota Camry pulled up alongside her at Cortez Street near Prospero Drive and offered her a ride. When she declined, he got out and tried to force her into the car. He even slapped her on the face, but she fought back.

"This young lady had the presence of mind to kick him in the groin," said West Covina Police Corporal Rudy Lopez. "When that happened he went down and she took off running, which is how she got away."

"Some girls that just let it happen and she actually did something, she fought and I would have probably done the same thing," said South High student Jazmine Galvan. "So high-five to her."

The recent abduction of 17-year-old Chelsea King ended with her death. A suspect was arrested and charged with assault and murder in that case.

Authorities are encouraging teenage girls to not only be aware of the surroundings but also to fight back if confronted in any way possible. The 16-year-old in West Covina did just that and got away.

Police also suggest girls always walk in groups and face the direction of oncoming traffic so they won't be caught off guard.

"We recommend you scream, make a lot of noise, try to draw attention from people that are around you so that they can focus on who is out there and what this problem is," said Lopez. "So it's good to use your cell phone immediately. Dial 911 immediately and get some help out there as quickly as you can."

As police dole out these safety tips, authorities are on the hunt for the suspects in Hemet and West Covina. And they need the public's help.

"If you see anyone or matching the description of the subject, don't contact him -- call the local authorities wherever you're at," said Lopez. "Get the police out there so they can look into it to see whether or not the subject they have is connected."

Police released a sketch of the West Covina suspect and described him as a male Latino, between the ages of 30 and 35, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, with wavy hair and thick eyebrows. The suspect was in a dark blue, late model four-door Toyota Camry. Anyone with information related to the case was asked to call West Covina Police at (626) 939-8557.

The Hemet suspect was described as a Latino male in his early 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing approximately 210 pounds, with a thin mustache and a bald head. He was wearing a light-colored short sleeve T-shirt, khaki pants and black shoes. The suspect fled southbound on foot. Anyone with information about the Hemet assault was asked to call Senior Investigator Harrell at the Hemet Sheriff's Station at (951) 776-1099.