Police searching for suspect in Christmas Day rape of a teenager in Echo Park

Police are seeking the public’s assistance in apprehending a man suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl near Echo Park Lake on Christmas Day after failing to find any leads in the case. Police released the surveillance video (shown above) of the suspect, a male Latino between the ages of 18 to 20, taken at a convenience store. The victim, who had traveled to Echo Park from North Hollywood on public transportation, started drinking with a group of people in the park in the early evening before the suspect took her to a secluded location near Bellevue Avenue and Belmont Street just west of the lake and raped her, according to an LAPD Community Alert issued in January.

Police said the suspect wears prescription eye glasses and has a piercing in his lower lip. Anyone with information about the incident should call Dect. J. Hurd with the Rampart Division at (213) 484-3624.

The LAPD issued a press release on the incident on Tuesday (though it was not posted on the department’s website until today) about six weeks after the crime occurred. Why did the LAPD wait so long to seek help from the public?

Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the Rampart Division said Community Alerts were distributed in the area near the rape but that widespread media attention might lead the suspect into hiding. “If we go to media immediately, they [suspects] may see themselves and then go into hiding,” Buhrmester said in an email. “Our thought is that most people are creatures of habit or routine. This suspect was described by the victim as “hanging out” in the area, thus we felt he may live nearby.”

However, in the case, “our investigation divulged no solid leads or calls.”

Buhrmester said the suspect in the Christmas Day rape is not connected to another man believed responsible for several assaults against girls in the same area last year.

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