A 17-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with a series of recent assaults in south San Diego that included victims having their pants pulled down or skirts lifted as they walked along sidewalks, police confirmed.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said Wednesday the teenage suspect was in custody for battery, accused in several assaults targeting women in the Otay Mesa West and Ocean Crest communities since mid-December. The latest assault was reported on Monday.
According to investigators, each assault shares these similarities: the suspect approached women from behind and tried to either pull down their pants or lift their skirts as they walked on the sidewalk or in front of a business. He then groped their bodies, police said.
Detectives have investigated at least four batteries that occurred after nightfall between Dec. 13 and Dec. 20 near Del Sol and Picador boulevards. At least two of those attacks took place in front of a 7-Eleven convenience store, while another was at a nearby Arco gas station and the fourth as a woman walked along a sidewalk in the area.
Last month, police told NBC 7 they were pursuing all possible leads on this case and didn’t want the assaults to “lead to something else.”
“We don’t know what he’s capable of,” SDPD Lt. Ernesto Servin said at that time.
Now, police said some of the alleged groping incidents involving the teen happened as early as 6:30 a.m., and some as late as 9 p.m. Investigators said Wednesday that the victims are all between the age of 18 and mid-20s. Because the suspect approached them from behind, many victims never saw the alleged attacker's face.
Investigators said they caught the teen after catching him on surveillance video. They printed out the suspect's photograph and distributed it to police officers in south San Diego, who were able to eventually track down the teen and take him into custody. Police said the teen's mother is being cooperative with the investigation.
Due to his age, the teen suspect’s name was not released.
The investigation is ongoing, but police believe there have been more than a dozen assaults tied to this series.
To that end, the police department believes there may be additional victims and unreported assaults linked to this series. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim is urged to contact the SDPD at (619) 531-2000. Witnesses should also call police with any information on assaults in this case.