Arrest made in Long Beach attacks targeting elderly victims

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Police announced Friday they made an arrest in connection with a series of robberies and assaults targeting the elderly in Long Beach.

The suspect arrested was identified as 39-year-old Melvin Earl Farmer Jr., Long Beach Chief of Police Robert Luna announced at an afternoon press conference.

Authorities said they believe Farmer is responsible for the attack or robbery of at least five elderly victims. He is believed to be the suspect caught on surveillance video in senior centers across Long Beach.

Police credit viewers who called in to identify the suspect after seeing surveillance footage from media outlets. Farmer was then apprehended Friday morning as a person of interest and was arrested after questioning. A 31-year-old woman, believed to be a potential accomplice, was also arrested. Her name was not released.

Authorities said Farmer has a long criminal record and was now facing numerous charges, including robbery, oral copulation and making death threats.

Karen Washington said her friend is one of the five elderly women targeted by the suspect.

"We are like family around here," she said. "What can they do? They can't do nothing. Like me, I'll fight back. But some of them can't walk. Some of them are in wheelchairs."

She said her friend, who is still in the hospital, was not only robbed but sexually assaulted.

Authorities said the victims were between 63 and 95 years old. The most recent attack happened Thursday morning in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood, a little more than two miles away from the senior complex.

For Washington, the emotions are building, and she wonders what else she could have done.

"I'm just hurting because that was my friend. I just wish I was there to help her. I just couldn't hear her. I couldn't hear her holler, or scream, or nothing," she said. "That's what hurts me the most - I couldn't do nothing."

Authorities are urging any additional victims to come forward.
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