UPDATE at 11:08 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 2016: A suspect has been arrested and charged in connection with the crime spree. See details at the bottom. First posted at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 17, 2016.
City and county officials this week put up a $35,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of a suspect they believe has been targeting women in a string of sexual attacks in Hollywood, East Hollywood and Echo Park.
Police say that on Aug. 1, the man entered a woman's unlocked apartment in the 800 block of North Mariposa Street in East Hollywood at 12:20 p.m. He grabbed the woman before fleeing at the sound of her screams.
“The suspect approached the victim, covered her mouth with one of his hands and pushed her against a wall, causing her to fall to the floor,” according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. “The victim began to yell and scream, scaring the suspect, causing him to flee the location.”
The same day, about 1:50 p.m., cops believe the same man entered another unlocked apartment, this one in the 1600 block of Cortez Street in Echo Park. When the resident confronted the suspect, he's believed to have said, “You’re pretty. I want to make you mine,” according to police.
“The suspect approached her and inserted his hand inside her blouse and began to fondle her breasts,” the LAPD stated. “When the victim attempted to pull away, the suspect pinned the victim against the couch. The victim’s dogs intervened and attempted to bite the suspect’s leg, causing the suspect to lift his leg off the ground. The victim used that opportunity to push the suspect away and out of the apartment.”
Investigators say the same guy was seen on Saturday peeping into the window of a home in the 1900 block of North Highland Avenue in Hollywood. They also believe he's connected to five other prowler incidents.
Officials say the suspect carries a kitchen knife and turns doorknobs until he finds one that's unlocked.
“We have a violent predator on the loose,” said city Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who, along with county Supervisor Hilda Solis, proposed the cash reward.
The suspect was described as a 6-foot-tall African-American in his late 20s weighing about 180 pounds. Cops say he has been seen wearing blue jeans, white high-top sneakers and an olive green T-shirt that has an image of the Virgin Mary.
Anyone with information on the suspect was asked to call LAPD Rampart Division detectives at 213-484-3487.
UPDATE at 11:08 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 2016: A suspect has been arrested and charged in connection with the crimes.
Thirty-four-year-old Russell Malcom Harris of Santa Clarita was fingered by someone from the Antelope Valley as a suspect who fit the description of the prowler. This turn of events pointed investigators to his Aug. 9 arrest in Pasadena for allegedly trying to break into a home, Los Angeles police said today.
Victims in L.A. picked Harris out of a photo lineup, cops said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged him with suspicion of assault to commit rape during commission of a first-degree burglary, first-degree burglary with a person present, first-degree residential burglary and attempted first-degree residential burglary.
In a statement, prosecutors described the alleged crime spree:
Harris allegedly broke into a woman's home on Aug. 1 and sexually touched her before fleeing. That same day, he allegedly broke into three more residences. On Aug. 2, he allegedly broke into or tried to break into an additional three residences.
The D.A.'s office said he's got a record of conviction in New York state. Harris faces life in state prison if he's successfully convicted.