Sketch released in aggravated sex assault of woman exiting METRO bus

March 1, 2012 4:43:18 PM PST
Authorities are searching for a rapist who followed a woman at a METRO bus stop on Houston's south side, then attacked her. Police are now talking about their investigation into a series of sexual assaults near METRO bus stops. Four total have taken place since the start of the year and different weapons were used each time.

Carolina Adams waits for a METRO bus on Old Spanish Trail, where on the afternoon February 22, another woman exiting a bus was followed off by a METRO rider, hit with a beer bottle on the head and sexually assaulted in a nearby field off Produce Row.

Police say the incident started when the 31-year-old female victim was walking to a METRO bus stop located at Wayside Drive and Lawndale Blvd. and an unknown Hispanic male approached her attempting to engage in conversation. The victim refused to interact with the suspect, and tried to avoid him by boarding a METRO bus. The male suspect followed her aboard, where he became increasingly aggressive.

"I'm just speechless. You just don't think about that getting on public transportation," Adams said.

HPD sex crimes investigators say the young Hispanic suspect should be recognizable. He is described as a Hispanic male in his late teens to early twenties. He has a thin build, approximately 5 foot 7, with various exposed tattoos up and down both arms and his neck, including a star tattoo on the right side of his head and a tattoo of a woman (possibly the Virgin Mary) on his right forearm.

Some METRO riders say at times the atmosphere can be uncomfortable.

"I'm hit on or spoken to at least by one person at least every single time, and it's very aggressive," said Adams.

Since January 1, four sexual assaults have happened near a METRO bus stop, at different locations around Houston. As of now, investigators don't believe they are linked since different weapons have been used -- a knife, gun and beer bottle. However, METRO police say a woman should never hesitate to get a driver involved when she feels uncomfortable.

"One thing she can do is let the bus driver know. Bus drivers have radios on their buses and they can immediately contact their dispatchers and they can immediately contact METRO police and Houston police," said Craig Goralski, METRO Police Assistant Chief.

There are people that drink on the bus, have weapons on the bus," said Adams. "I think it would be amazing if we had someone on the bus that had more of an authoritative stance."

"Sometimes a lot of young people get on the bus and they are very loud and stuff like that and sometimes they are out of control, but I think that on certain routes at certain times there should be more security on buses," Elisha Gunn said.

Assistant Chief Goralski says they are launching a program that will use uniformed and plainclothes officers on some METRO buses.

Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at that leads to the filing of felony charges or arrest of the suspect(s) in this case. Tips can also be sent by text message. Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.