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Assault suspect wanted in multiple molest cases in South Gate

May 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
South Gate police are searching for a man who may be to blame for a series of assaults on young women.

The latest victim is a 10-year-old girl who was groped at an elementary school, and officials believe the same suspect is connected to other assaults in the area.

South Gate residents are very concerned especially because the incident happened at a school, where children are supposed to feel safe.

The young girl was able to fight off her attacker and run away, but authorities fear the suspect may strike again.

"Now we just go straight home because it's not safe," said Ashley Contrares, whose sister attends Montara Avenue Elementary School, where the brazen attack happened.

"You don't even know who can be the next person. It can be me or my little sister who's here at this school. I'd never expect it would happen right here at this school," Contrares said.

Police said the 10-year-old victim was attacked in broad daylight after school right on campus with several students still around.

The attack has many people in the community concerned.

"This individual is very bold, and I think, not just young individuals, but everyone is at risk," said South Gate resident Mary Castillo. "He went into a school. It's not just going to be a young individual that's going to be affected. It's everyone because you don't know what his next thought would be."

The suspect is described as an 18-year-old Latino man with a thin build and short, dark hair. He was wearing a black hat at the time of the attack and rode away on a bicycle.

At least five similar assaults have occurred in the South Gate area, and police believe they all may be connected. In one attack, a 15-year-old girl was walking to school near the intersection of Liberty Boulevard and Elizabeth Avenue when she was grabbed from behind.

The latest attack has many residents changing their behavior and keeping a watchful eye out for the suspect.

If you have any information regarding these cases, you're urged to contact South Gate police at (323) 563-5457.