A man armed with a knife sexually assaulted a child walking to school in Merced, CA, an area in the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno.
According to a local paper, The Fresno Bee, a 29-year-old man was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting the child while the victim was walking to school. The child, whose name, age, and gender were not shared, told the police that the man was armed with a knife during the early morning assault.
The child attends Weaver Elementary School, Merced police said. Police announced the heinous crime last week when they arrested the suspect, David Joseph Hart, 29, of Planada.
He was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, assault with the intent to commit a felony, criminal threats, false imprisonment, sexual battery, and child endangerment.
Detectives believe Hart may have been involved in other similar incidents that may not have been reported, “Residents are urged to contact Detective Alicia Gorman at 209-388-7715 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any information about this case or similar incidents.” The case number is 22-58776.
According to police, “During their investigation, detectives learned that a man was harassing juveniles in the same area back in August.”
A police spokesperson went on to say, “Detectives obtained surveillance footage from the previous incident, which showed a man driving a white Jeep Renegade. Using this information, detectives found the same white Jeep Renegade on surveillance going to and from the area during the October incident.”
Hart is believed to be the suspect in the August and October cases, police said. To identify him, detectives viewed hundreds of license plate reader photos dating to July and located a 2016 Jeep Renegade registered to Hart’s ex-wife.
Hart was arrested in Atwater after detectives saw him leave his place of employment.