BERKELEY (CBS) — Police are investigating three similar sexual assaults that occurred over the past week in the vicinity of the University of California at Berkeley campus.
Berkeley police released video footage of a possible suspect Thursday. Detectives are seeking the community’s help in identifying the possible suspect and are encouraging community members to view the video of the person, available here.
The Berkeley Police Department Special Victims Unit released a statement Thursday saying they have decided to share the surveillance footage “in an effort to identify the suspect and protect the community.” They have also alerted the UC Police Department to the assaults.
In each of these cases, Berkeley police said, the suspect appears to be targeting college-age Asian women.
Berkeley police said the female victims have described the suspect as an African American or East Indian male in his early 20s, standing between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall with dark curly hair or dreadlocks pulled back. He was described as wearing a dark colored jacket with a hooded sweatshirt and pants.
The first reported sexual assault occurred at about 9:10 p.m. on February 11 in the 2500 block of Haste Street, adjacent to People’s Park, police said.
The victim, a female student at UC Berkeley, was walking past the park when the suspect, who she described as also having a beard, grabbed her from behind , pushed her to the ground and sexually assaulted her, according to campus police.
She then reported the crime to the Berkeley Police Department.
Then, five days later, two more sexual assaults near the university were reported.
At about 11 p.m. on February 16, a woman was sexually assaulted near the intersection of Durant Avenue and Ellsworth Street, police said.
About twenty minutes later, at 11:30 p.m., another woman was assaulted a short distance away in the 2500 block of Benvenue Avenue, less than a block from People’s Park and near a UC Berkeley residence hall.
In that incident, the victim chased the suspect through UC Berkeley’s Unit 2 parking lot. The suspect was last seen running west on Haste Street.
Berkeley police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said on Wednesday that the department is actively investigating the sexual assaults and trying to determine if they are related.
In January, campus police alerted the community to a reported sexual battery at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza.
In 2015, UC police alerted the community to 11 reports of sexual assault or sexual battery, including a July 30, 2015 sexual assault at People’s Park.
Anyone with information about these assaults is urged to contact the Berkeley Police Department Special Victims Unit at 510-981-5735. If a caller wishes to remain anonymous they can call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter