NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police in the Bronx were on the hunt for an alleged sexual predator late Sunday, after they say a 12-year-old girl was assaulted in Claremont in broad daylight
As CBS2’s Reena Roy reported, the girl remained hospitalized Sunday evening, hours after the attack.
Investigators say just before 11 a.m. the suspect followed the victim from 174th Street to 1686 Weeks Ave., where he allegedly threatened her with a simulated gun before leading her into an alleyway and sexually assaulting her.
The victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment as the suspect fled in an unknown direction.
As NYPD detectives scoured the alleyway for evidence, neighbors expressed horror.
“If they can do that to a little girl, that means definitely, you kow, they don’t have no respect for people,” one neighbor said.
“She’s 12 years old,” said the Rev. Raul Escudero, pastor of the International Christian Church of the Savior. “I mean, it’s just shocking – I mean, especially in broad daylight. I mean, it’s horrible.”
Escudero said police viewed surveillance video at his church next door with the victim and her mother.
“She was in shock, and yes, she was crying — very visibly upset,” he said.
Escuredo said the girl was able to point out her attacker.
“Young man, stocky build, dark, maybe Hispanic – we’re not sure,” Escudero said. “Her mother was very upset — even heard her saying that she never let her daughter go on her own. You know, it was the first time that she went to the supermarket, and this happens.”
Neighbors said the victim and her mother live the area and that they are usually together, but unfortunately, that short walk alone took a wrong turn.
“This is happening in the neighborhood, and I know the little girl and the mom,” said family friend and neighbor Shindia Perata. “She’s so quiet – she’s been always with her mom. I a few times see her herself, but she’s quiet – she’s… really good girl.”
As 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported, it was all very disturbing to one woman named Asia who was out walking with her daughter of the same age.
“We’re always in this neighborhood. We just came from the library. So it’s like, it’s very disturbing,” she said.
Other parents in the neighborhood were holding their children a little tighter Sunday night.
“Just being around here knowing this, it’s kind of scary, so we just have to be careful,” said neighbor Margaret Reyes. “It’s the best thing – to be aware of your children at all times.”
Family members were too distraught to talk on camera, but said the girl and her mother were doing OK at the hospital.
Police released surveillance images of the suspect late Sunday night.
Police cordoned off the block where it happened and went door-to-door looking for witnesses late Sunday.