A man who police believe is responsible for a series of sexual assaults in West Los Angeles since December struck again early Friday when he attacked a 42-year-old woman while she was sleeping alone at her apartment in the Palms district, authorities said.
The man sexually assaulted the woman after apparently climbing over the gate surrounding her apartment complex in the 3500 block of Jasmine Avenue about 4:30 a.m., said Lt. Anthony Alba, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
He described Friday's incident as the most violent of the man's estimated six attacks, all of them on single women in their 30s and 40s.
"Our concern is that the suspect gets more violent every time," he said.
Alba said he did not know if the woman's apartment was locked; he would not say whether the assault included rape.
The woman struggled with her attacker, who police believe might have scratches on his face as a result, Alba said. She was treated at a local hospital for injuries she received when the man struck her on her upper body and face, he said.
Police think the assailant's first attack occurred in December in Santa Monica. In February, two women were attacked in Venice and one in Palms. On March 18, another Santa Monica woman was assaulted.
Alba said some of the victims were raped but refused to say which.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles City Council posted a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the attacker.
Police had developed a composite sketch of the assailant before the most recent incident.
The victim of Friday's attack described the man as an African American with short, black hair, 5-feet-10 to 6 feet tall and 17 to 25 years old, Alba said. He was described as having a thin build, with no facial hair, and he was wearing a dark baseball cap, dark blue jeans and a dark bomber jacket.
Previous victims had described the suspect as an African American man with short hair, 5-feet-8 to 5-feet-10, weighing 150 to 180 pounds, and 20 to 30 years old.
Police are urging Westside residents to keep their doors and windows locked.
They took pains to say this rapist is not the man who they believe is responsible for several robberies and assaults in apartments near UCLA that have created strong concerns among students.
Police, assisted by dogs from the department's canine unit, spent Friday morning and afternoon combing Jasmine Avenue in Palms, asking residents to let them search their apartments and the trunks of their cars.
"I feel like moving out of the neighborhood," said Lindalia Kahome, 19, who lives on the street, which is in a popular area for retirees and students at local colleges.
Chris Egardo, 56, who has lived on the street for two years, said she considered the neighborhood safe until Friday.
"I'm scared because he's on the loose, and something like this will happen again," she said. "I'm pretty sure all the women he attacked thought they were safe, but you're not even safe in your own home."