By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV  

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) —  Sex Crimes Investigators in St. Paul are asking for the public’s help in catching a man suspected of a brutal rape.

Authorities said the incident happened near the intersection of University Avenue and Hamline Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Investigators said the man struck up a conversation with a 27-year-old woman at a convenience store at the intersection and then followed her outside.

Officers said it all began when they were flagged down by several people near the intersection. They began speaking to the young woman who told the officers that she had been talking to the man inside the store.

But when she stepped outside, trouble followed.

“They left the store and continued talking until they got to near the alley entrance. At that point he pulled her into the alley, struck the woman with his fist and assaulted her,” said John Keating with the St. Paul Police Department.

Because of some increasingly improved surveillance camera technology, investigators have some clear images of the man they are searching for.

The suspect is described as a black male in his mid to late 20s and has a medium build with a short scruffy beard. He was wearing a black hat, blue jeans and a white T-shirt.

The woman said she fought with the man and he ran off. After speaking to investigators she was treated at Regions Hospital and released. At this point in their investigation the assault appears to be a random act.

“Investigators have gone through the files and it doesn’t appear this is related to anything else we’ve seen,” Keating said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call St. Paul Police at (651) 266-5685.

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