JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police are asking for the public's help to identify a man accused of attacking and sexually assaulting a teenage girl Saturday at a Westside apartment complex.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office on Thursday released a composite sketch of the accused attacker, who police described as a Hispanic male, 15-20 years old, with brown eyes, brown hair, and a heart tattoo on his upper arm.
According to police, the victim, who is not being named, said she was walking on Hyde Park Road late Saturday night and was followed by the man through an apartment complex.
She told police he pulled her into a laundry room and sexually assaulted her.
She reported the attack to police the next morning.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said, unfortunately, what happened is all too common.
"Every 15 seconds, a female is attacked somewhere in the United States. It's not always sexual assault, but some type of attack," Smith said.
He said the incident is a sad reminder to always be on alert. He also pointed out that there's strength in numbers.
"Especially late at night, it's always important to be with someone else -- one or two other people. These things very rarely occur when someone is with someone," Smith said.
For self-defense, Smith advised people to draw as much attention as possible.
"Make a lot of noise, scream. As soon as you're touched, as soon as you're contacted -- scream. Because in many cases, the person will run off," Smith said. "Carry a whistle at night -- anything that's going to grab somebody's attention."
A father of two little girls who lives across the street said word of what happened has him keeping a closer eye on his daughters.
"A friend of mine told me what happened and I'm, like, 'Wow.' I wouldn't expect anything like that to happen out here," Jakari Christian said. "I just want to make sure that they're within eyesight or they're around friends where they can call for help if anything goes wrong."
He's not alone. Other neighbors told News4Jax that they no longer feel safe.
"That's just wrong for a man to do to any woman. You know, you're taking a woman's power away by doing that to them, especially by her being so young," Christian said.
Anyone with any information about the location or identity of the man depicted in the sketch is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward of up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.