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Deputies look for attacker who chased girl

Search underway for man who chased teen girl walking to Saugus High

Posted: March 13, 2009 1:49 a.m.
Updated: March 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Sheriff's deputies are searching for a man who allegedly chased a teenage girl on her way to Saugus High School on Thursday.

The report comes a little more than a week after a 16-year-old girl was allegedly grabbed and groped by a man in Canyon Country while she was on her way home from school.

Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Casaus said the Saugus High teen was walking in the 27900 block of Caraway Lane around 7:30 a.m. Thursday when a man following her in a burgundy, full-size pickup truck asked if she needed a ride. The incident happened about three miles from the high school.

When she said no, the man got out of the truck and chased her, Casaus said. The girl reportedly ran away, and the man got back in the truck and fled in an unknown direction.

The man was described as white with balding gray hair, in his 40s, standing about six feet tall and weighing about 230 pounds.

"The student is perfectly fine," Saugus High Principal Bill Bolde said Thursday. "The things that we're doing are consistent with trying to safeguard every single student that comes to Saugus High."

The William S. Hart Union High School District asked all its principals to e-mail a student safety-related message Thursday night to parents, district spokeswoman Pat Willett said.

The prepared message stated: "Even though all of these events have occurred off campus, they are of great concern to us."

The message advises students to walk in groups; be aware of surroundings and suspicious people or vehicles; avoid alleys; not be afraid to run, scream and seek help if approached by strangers; report incidents to school staff or sheriff's deputies immediately; and, if possible, get good descriptions of suspects or vehicles.

Casaus said there was no indication the Thursday incident was related to the alleged attack on a 16-year-old girl March 4 near the intersection of Shadow Pines Boulevard and Begonias Lane in Canyon Country.

The suspect in that incident was described as a white man in his 40s driving a dark-colored Toyota Camry.

In that incident, a man reportedly grabbed the 16-year-old girl, threw her in the back of the car and groped her, sheriff's Sgt. Darren Harris said.

The victim reportedly told deputies the man followed her in the car as she walked home from school. When she tried to flee, the suspect allegedly tried to smother her with a blanket and drag her into the back of his car.

A male teenager reportedly came to the victim's aid and the girl fled.

"Everyone seemed a bit freaked out," said Saugus High freshman Bianca Zinnanti, who lives a short walking distance from the school. She said students were informed of Thursday's incident around 2 p.m., during their last period, and were advised to walk home in groups.

Her father, Anthony Zinnanti, received a phone call at the same time, hearing the same message broadcast to students, and drove to the school to pick up his daughter.

Bolde said about 5,000 homes received a phone call.

"This guy is brazen," Zinnanti said of Thursday's incident and added he'll be accompanying his daughter to and from school for the time being.

Zinnanti said he would like to see increased community cooperation, perhaps with the formation of neighborhood watch groups.

Anyone with information about Thursday's incident can call the Sheriff's Station at (661) 255-1121.

Signal staff writer Tammy Marashlian contributed to this report.


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