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Patrols increased near school after rape of girl, 11

March 03, 2007|Charles Proctor | Times Staff Writer

Long Beach police continued to search Friday for a man who forced an 11-year-old girl by knifepoint into an alley near Jefferson Middle School and raped her repeatedly.

The attack occurred near the intersection of Loma Avenue and 8th Street in Long Beach about 4 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said. Police, who were notified by the girl's mother about 5:45 p.m., said the attacker threatened the child with harm if she reported the incident.

The girl described her assailant as white, 30 to 35 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and 140 pounds. She said he wore a denim baseball cap.

Officers have beefed up patrols in the area, especially near the middle school, and passed out composite sketches of the suspect in the neighborhood.

The incident cast a pall over what residents described as a peaceful part of the city that's inhabited mostly by middle-aged people and college students. The lawns are trimmed, the avenues are lined with trees, and the neighbors often linger to chat on street corners and front porches.

"This is the type of neighborhood where everyone has keys to everyone else's house," said Rick McGilton, 54, an employee dispute mediator for the Air Force. "I could go down to the store and leave my doors unlocked and nothing would happen."

Pat Ford, a 40-year-old locksmith who lives a block from where the attack occurred, installed video cameras on his roof when he moved in a year ago but had never turned them on.

"Now," he said, "I guess I'd better buy some tapes for those things."

At Jefferson, school administrators passed out letters and a sketch of the suspect for students to take home to parents. They also urged parents to pick up their children on time and admonished students not to walk alone, said Principal Lori Clark.

"I overheard a lot of students talking on their cellphones yesterday, saying things like, 'Yes Mommy, I have my buddy. I'm walking home,' " Clark said as a police car cruised past the school. "They don't seem unduly nervous."

On Friday at dismissal time, hundreds of students poured out of the building under the watchful eyes of a dozen administrators and teachers who fanned out around the neighborhood.

Parents who waited at the curb said the incident had alarmed them.

Rodney Goodall, a designer who lives in Long Beach, was upset when his daughter Ryan, 11, and son Rodney Jr., 13, both Jefferson students, told him about the assault. But Goodall or his wife always pick up their children, so they didn't think they had to change any of their routines -- except for one.

"I got here 20 minutes early," Goodall said of his spot on the curb in front of the school. "Usually I'm here five minutes late."

Police have asked anyone with information about the suspect to call (562) 570-7368.

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