MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police said they need the public’s help identifying a man who sexually assaulted a girl at a Wal-Mart in Fridley, Minn.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said the assault was brazen and was caught on surveillance video. It happened on Dec. 26 at around 2 p.m.
Authorities said the man groped the girl while she was standing in an open shopping area right next to her mother and older sibling. Investigators say when the mother turned to look at some merchandise, he lunged at the girl.
Police said the girl, who is under 13-years-old, immediately reported the incident to her mother and the mother contacted Fridley Police.
Officers looked at Wal-Mart’s surveillance tape and said the man was seen “eerily stalking the victim and her family” as they moved around the store. The crime itself was also caught on video.
After examining the surveillance footage, investigators are convinced the young girl was targeted.
“What makes this case the most significant and eerie from our standpoint is were able to track the suspects’ movement,” says Cdr. Paul Sommer with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. “You see him throughout the store. He appears to have targeted this one particular little girl and you see him walking around and stalking the family, almost like a predator stalks his prey.”
After the attack, the suspect headed right for the front doors and made a clean getaway.
The story is a shock to Lori Reimers, who has three kids of her own.
“It’s scary. It’s very frightening that they’re out and about and so bold,” said Reimers. “I would assume they tried to stop him, or somebody did. I would hope. Maybe it was so shocking that (the family) family froze.”
Wal-Mart is calling the incident “unacceptable”.
“Wal-Mart takes these matters involving our customers very seriously. Wal-Mart is working with law enforcement to make sure there’s an arrest,” said Wal-Mart spokesperson Ashley Hardie.
The video is being kept secret, but the photos were released with hopes that someone will recognize the suspect.
“If this is what he’s willing to do, he’s clearly capable of doing much more if he were to ever be in a more private area,” said Sommer.
The suspect is described as a white man around 30 years old. He has an average build, sparse facial hair and a beard or goatee. He was wearing a brown, work type hooded jacket at the time of the crime, as well as a black stocking hat with red flames on the top.
If you recognize the man in the photo or have any information you think would help in this case you can call the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.