METRO bus riders, especially women, are on alert. There have been four attacks near bus stops since the beginning of the year. Now, police have released a sketch of the man responsible for the latest one.
Tearia Brown has no qualms about her safety.
"As long as my friend is with me then I'm fine," Brown said.
But it's not always possible to travel in pairs and that's when she's been a target.
"Some people will say some harassing stuff to you," Brown said.
Many women who ride the bus tell us they've at one time or another felt uncomfortable, and now Houston police want them to be alert. They say a man followed and then sexually assaulted a female bus rider last week, which unfortunately comes as no surprise to regulars.
"Seeing some of the people that do get on the bus, I can see do stuff like that," METRO rider Constance Moye said.
According to investigators, the man first started harassing the 31-year old victim near a bus stop on Wayside. The harassment continued after she boarded and even when she hopped off in the 5600 of Old Spanish Trail. Police say he followed her, hit her with a beer bottle and then forced her into a nearby field on Produce Row, where he sexually assaulted her.
Since January 1, we've learned four women have been sexually assaulted near METRO bus stops at different locations around the city. Police want people to pay attention to this man's distinctive tattoos, a star on the right side of his head and a woman who might be the Virgin Mary on his right forearm. They are trying to identify him, while also encouraging patrons to seek help from bus drivers if they feel unsafe.
"They can contact the dispatcher, who would be in contact with the police almost immediately," METRO Police Department Asst. Chief Craig Goralski said.
Sharon Johnson tries to never be distracted.
"I'm looking at my surroundings all the time," she said.
Police say it's possible that two of the four attacks are related because the suspect descriptions are similar.
METRO police have increase patrols near the bus stops where the attacks have happened.
Anyone with information regarding his identity is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.