LA County firefighter suspected of sexual assault arrested outside El Monte school

EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- A Los Angeles County firefighter is suspected of sexual assault. Investigators said Richard Thomas Loken, 38, was arrested outside Potrero Elementary School in El Monte with a loaded gun Wednesday afternoon.

What P.E. teacher Steve Esposito witnessed from the school ball field set off his radar. A truck with tinted windows was idling for hours where children walk to and from Potrero Elementary. The man inside was in no shape to drive.

"He didn't seem well at all, and the fact that his car would keep going for such a long period of time," said Esposito. "He sounded like he was very sick to his stomach basically."

What appeared initially as a public nuisance soon became much more. El Monte police responded to the school's call, arresting Loken, a 10-year veteran with the L.A. County Fire Department working out of the Commerce station. Not only did he appear intoxicated, what he had in the truck was alarming: a loaded handgun and more.

"Handcuffs and a Taser; those things are kind of unusual for people to carry. In their interaction with the subject, he was eventually arrested," said Lt. Chris Williams with the El Monte Police Department.

But Loken is in trouble for even more. Investigators link him to a sexual assault of a woman who was walking near the same location four hours earlier.

"The initial information that we have is that he approached from behind, touched them in what we consider sexual battery, had some interaction with them and then eventually fled when contacted by other witnesses," said Williams.

Loken is behind bars at the El Monte Police Department as investigators seek information from the public, whether Loken had approached any other woman and whether there are other victims.

It's all the more reason, said grandmother Maria Lopez, for adults to accompany defenseless children to and from school.

As for P.E. teacher Steve Esposito, he had no idea the man he reported was armed and suspected in an assault.

"We're all a team here. We want to do what's best for the kids, for the district, small part but we all worked together well here," said Esposito.

Loken is on administrative leave from his duties at the Commerce station. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday.

Police said Loken may have victimized other women. Anyone with information is asked to contact the El Monte Police Department at (626) 580-2114.
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