Austin police investigating sexual assault in north Austin

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are investigating a sexual assault of a woman at a north Austin apartment complex early Monday afternoon, according to a press release from the Austin Police Department. 

The victim lives in an apartment at the 8800 block of north Interstate 35. She told police at about 4:30 p.m. Monday, a man knocked on her apartment door. 

“When she answered, the suspect pointed a small gun at her and forced her into her residence,” police wrote in a press release. “Once inside, he demanded money at which time the victim gave him her purse.” 

The suspect allegedly told the victim to go into the bathroom where he sexually assaulted her. She was then able to get away and call for help.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his late 30s with short, black hair and a mustache. The man was about 5 feet 7 inches tall and of medium to heavyset build. He also allegedly had a mark or tattoo under his left eye and tattoos on both arms down to the wrists. He was last seen wearing a black shirt and blue jeans. 

“Detectives believe that the suspect was in the area for a period of time before the burglary and sexual assault occurred – possibly as early as noon,” police wrote. “He may have been with a Hispanic female.” 

Neighbors share concerns at the complex

Neighbors are now calling for change and say they see too much crime outside their doors.

“They need to more now. Because of this, they have to do more,” said Raquel Searles, who lives in the Avesta Solano apartments where the attack occurred.

“Just recently, we started hearing the stabbing, a shooting, now this, you know. It’s getting bad.”  

Searles has a home full of kids and grandkids. She said she’s constantly reminding her family to stay alert. 

“I personally will not open the door. I tell my kids all the time, I don’t care who knocks, don’t open,” Searles said. 

LaShae Jones takes precautions every time she heads to her building at the Avesta Solano apartments, but still said she’s constantly concerned. Management has yet to install a peephole on her door since she moved in over a month ago. 

“If someone knocks on my door and I don’t know who it is, I literally have to go to my bedroom and look out my window and see if I know who it is before I answer the door,” Jones said. 

KXAN spoke to the management to see how they were responding to Monday’s attack. They couldn’t tell us any new precautions they were taking, only that they have two security guards on the premises after-hours. 

“They say 24/7, but not until recently did we start seeing these gentleman, these security guards walking around,” Searles said. 

“If we engage with our other neighbors more and know who we are living next to, we have a better chance of figuring out who doesn’t belong here so we can keep us and our children safe,” Jones said. 

Other recent sexual assaults 

This is just the latest in a string of sexual assaults committed against women by men they don’t know in the Austin area.

In February, police noted similarities in the three sexual assaults. They did not rule out the possibility of a serial predator. In a briefing Tuesday afternoon, however, police said they do not at this time believe the suspect in this case matches the descripton of the suspect in the previous cases.

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