Attempted assault near Lake Merritt, plus six robberies in two hours in surrounding neighborhoods
on April 19, 2011
The Oakland Police Department reported an attempted assault in the Lake Merritt neighborhood today of a woman as she was returning home from the store. According to a police press release issued Tuesday evening, she was followed by an unknown person into her residence near the the 1400 block of 3rd Avenue where she was then ordered to remove her clothing. The suspect, described as an African-American male who is approximately 6 feet tall, was wearing dark clothing. According to police, after ordering the woman to undress the man then fled on foot.
The OPD considers this incident to be high priority, but on Tuesday evening police spokespeople could not be reached for comment as to whether this case may have a connection to a series of sexual assaults near Lake Merritt earlier this year.
Four other sexual assaults in the lake area have been reported over the last seven months. On September 19, 2010, two women were robbed on their way home and then sexually assaulted. One of the reported assaults took place near the intersection of 3rd Avenue and International Boulevard, and the other at E. 18th Street and Lakeshore Avenue. A similar third robbery and sexual assault was reported on January 18, 2011. On February 7, another woman reported being sexually assaulted and then beaten while returning home to an apartment near the intersection of Jackson and 8th Street.
In all four previous sexual assaults, the suspect was described as an African-American male, and in three cases was described as being approximately 6 feet tall.
In September, Oakland police released this artists’ sketch of the suspected assailant in the first two incidents. In February, police released this video asking for the public’s help in identifying a man they called a “person of interest,” not a suspect, in the February 7 incident.
On Tuesday the OPD also reported a total of six different street robberies that happened within two hours of one another in Patrol Area 2, where the Lake Merritt neighborhood is located. In a neighborhood alert, Captain Ed Tracy stated that he believes the same suspect is responsible for all six robberies. The suspect is described as an African-American male, 25-30 years old and 5’9. He was wearing a black ski mask, white short sleeve t-shirt and blue jeans. The suspect vehicle is described as an 1985-1990 light blue Ford Taurus.
As of press time, Tracy and other OPD officials could not be reached for comment on whether the robberies may be related to Tuesday’s attempted assault.
In response to the recent spate of robberies and sexual assaults, Lake Merritt business leaders have worked to keep the community alert. Lake Merritt Business Association President Steve Ma is working with several OPD sergeants to set up an escort group that ensures neighbors safety while walking to and from work. “Hopefully we can do it in a way that will also influence other neighborhoods,” Ma said.
He’s also proposing a car patrol to monitor the neighborhood for criminal activity. “I’m not going to be a cowboy to confront criminals,” he said, “I just want to team up with neighbors to make sure we all get home safe.”
Although Ma said crime in the neighborhood has decreased since February, he said he doesn’t want neighborhood involvement to fall off — especially now in light of recent criminal activity. “I want to keep the momentum going,” he said. “Summer time is coming and I would like to get a better handle on things before we see another crime spree.”
The OPD asks residents to practice caution when going about daily activities including traveling to and from your home. Anyone with information about the recent assaults is asked to call the OPD’s Youth and Family Services Division at 510-238-3641.
Clarification: The suspect in Tuesday’s attempted assault got past the front gate of the building, but not into the victim’s unit.
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