PALM SPRINGS, Fla. (CBS12) — The Palm Springs Police Department (PSPD) is asking for the community’s help in finding a man accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
According to police, the man approached the child around 8 p.m. on April 19 in front of the Palm Springs Library and just behind the Palm Springs Police Department. According to the victim, he did not know the man.
According to Captain Jacob Ruiz, with the Palm Springs Police Department, the area the assault happened in was a very public place and the suspect was caught on surveillance cameras near the City Hall building leaving the area.
“There was still a little bit of daylight. It is very brazen (the assault). And it concerns us– we want to identify this person. And usually in these types of cases- where people are prone to abuse children, especially, there’s a pattern or history and so we need to identify this stuff as soon as possible,” said Ruiz.
Captain Ruiz said the department received a report from the victim’s family a couple of days after the incident happened. From there, PSPD detectives investigated.
“We’ve investigated this case for a little over a month now. We’re using information, we’re using databases, obviously child sexual predator and sex offender databases to try to compare and see if this may be one of them. It doesn’t appear it is right now, but you never know,” said Captain Ruiz.
Ruiz says sometimes sexual predators will move from other states and not register on the list. But as of right now, they have not been able to identify the man they caught on surveillance video leaving the scene.
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The man was wearing a black shirt, camo cargo shorts, white tube socks, and black sneakers on the day of the assault. He is described as a heavy-set, tall white man with salt and pepper hair with a bald spot on the back of his head. He is believed to be in his late 50s.
Police hope releasing the surveillance video to the public may help people in the community identify the man.
“We believe somebody can recognize him as a neighbor as somebody who’s you know, works or is out in the community. We have stepped up patrols since then, especially during that time of night to see if he returns to the area,” said Captain Ruiz.
Those who work and live in the area tell CBS12 News this part of town is generally pretty quiet and safe. Incidents like this, don’t happen.
“That’s really terrifying. I mean, usually, this community is such a safe neighborhood,” said a community member.
“I’m surprised especially around here. There are a lot of children. It’s a family area,” said Neighbor Judith Allen.
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“I mean, kids go to the park on their own, sometimes walk the canal, I see them fishing. Where I live isn’t really all that safe, but I figured this place is the exception honestly,” said community member Jorge Hernandez.
Captain Ruiz says the surveillance video did not capture the suspect getting into any kind of vehicle. The man was walking off the property so police think he may live in the area or is staying in the area.
The department’s goal is the make sure this man does not do this to another child.
“If we don’t identify this person, he was brazen enough to do it (sexually assault a teen) already in public, it could be done again. And so we want to identify this person to bring justice,” said Ruiz.
Detectives are following every lead, working with other agencies, and using technology to try and determine who this man is.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Palm Springs Police Department at 561-584-8300 ext. 8555 or to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS (8477).