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Police increase presence at local schools while searching for assault suspect
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Turlock Police officers are on the hunt for a man who has assaulted three teenage girls between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

All three girls were able to escape from the suspect and provided similar descriptions of the assailant.

All three assaults were reported in the vicinity of Christoffersen Parkway between McKenna Drive and Walnut Road.

The Turlock Unified School District sent out a safety alert Tuesday morning to about 14,000 parents after two of the attacks were reported within just minutes of each other.

The first assault was reported around 3:55 p.m. Monday in the 4000 block of McKenna Drive and involved a Pitman High School student . A 16-year-old girl was walking eastbound on Christoffersen when a man walking in the opposite direction passed by her and touched her inappropriately, Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis said.

The 16-year-old ran from the man and took shelter at the nearby All Saints Church. The girl told a church employee of the assault and the police department was called. Officers searched the area but did not locate the suspect.

The girl described the assailant as a white male adult, possibly in his 20s. He stood about 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 10 inches and weighed approximately between 150 to 170 pounds. He has light brown or reddish hair with a scruffy beard. On Monday the suspect was described as wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded zip-up sweatshirt.

The second attack was reported at 7:20 a.m. today by a 14-year-old girl walking to Pitman High School. The girl was walking westbound on Christoffersen when a man passed by her and groped her, Lewis said.

The girl was able to break away from the suspect and ran the rest of the way to school. She reported the incident to a school counselor, who in turn informed the school resource officer assigned to the campus.

The physical description of the assailant matched that from the attack the day before, except his clothes were different. He was described as wearing tan pants, a dark colored hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses. The suspect was last seen running towards Walnut Road and Shady Lane.

About that same time officials at Turlock Junior High School were learning of an assault on a 13-year-old girl. The girl was walking northbound on Shady Lane when a man, who she described as a jogger because he was running, came up to her and grabbed her arm. The girl pushed the man away and ran to the junior high campus. Her description of the suspect was the same as the one the 14-year-old reported, Lewis said.

The school district sent out a safety alert around 11 a.m. today detailing the attacks and the suspect description, which in turn prompted several potential suspect sightings that the police department has investigated. One man was briefly detained around 1 p.m. in the area of Christoffersen and Golden State Boulevard, but it was determined he was not the suspect, Lewis said.

In addition to the alert, the school district was sending home notices with Walnut Elementary and Turlock Junior High School students and posting the alert on school websites. Students were advised to not walk alone, to keep a safe distance from any strangers, and to yell and scream if approached and run to a safe place.

All the schools in the area had an increased police presence today.

Anyone seeing suspicious activity or an individual matching the description of the suspect is asked to call the Turlock Police Department’s non emergency number at 668-1200. Anyone seeing an assault should call 911.