OAKLAND -- Angered and worried following three sexual assaults on children at three different Oakland elementary schools since late January, 100 parents, educators, police and community leaders marched to promote peace and child protection Wednesday night.
The march took place near the scene of the most recent assault, which happened at Bella Vista Elementary School at 1025. E. 28th St. On March 28, a 6-year-old girl was lured from the playground at the school and sexually assaulted in a nearby silver SUV, police said.
LaKree West, 25, a mother of three, including an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old who both attend Bella Vista, said she was outraged by the incidents.
"Somebody has to take a stand," she said. "We have to fight for what's right and put a stop to this. Everyone coming together shows that as a community and as a school, we will not allow this."
West said she spoke with her daughter recently about stranger danger, adding, "I've told her you kick, scream, yell, punch, run, do whatever to get away."
Police investigators say one suspect is responsible for two earlier attacks -- on Jan. 24 at Think College Now Elementary School at 2825 International Blvd. and on March 7 at the World Academy ¿charter school at 1700 18th Ave. They are investigating whether the same person also committed the March 28 crime, according to a police spokeswoman.
In the January incident, a 6-year-old girl was grabbed on the Think College Now campus and touched in an "inappropriate manner," police said. The girl struggled and got away and told an adult on campus, who called police.
On March 7, at the World Academy, a 7-year-old girl reported that a man had molested her in a campus bathroom. The girl pushed the man way, screamed and ran. The school was locked down while police searched for the man.
In the March 28 incident, the victim returned to campus after the assault and told an adult, who informed police. The suspect's silver SUV was last seen driving westbound on East 28th Street toward Ninth Avenue.
"We are committed to ensuring safety in and around the school campus," said Bella Vista Principal Felicia Phillips. "Obviously, we need to do more. I hope with this walk, we can all get to know each other better and watch out for one another."
The suspect identified in a police sketch and thought to be responsible for the first two incidents is described as a white or Hispanic man, standing about 6 feet and weighing 180-200 pounds with black hair and a mustache. He may have a rash or birthmark on the left side of his forehead. He was seen wearing a black T-shirt, blue jeans and brown Skechers brand shoes at the time.
The attacker in the Bella Vista incident is described as a Hispanic man, 20 to 25, between 5-foot-6 and 5-10 with an average build, black hair and a tattoo of a horse's face on his left calf. He was wearing a blue and black jacket and black shorts during the attack.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $15,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest or arrests in the cases. Anyone with information is urged to call police at 510-238-3641 or a tip line at 510-637-0298 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.