Ocean Springs Police Seeking Assault Suspect - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs Police Seeking Assault Suspect

"Neither of the young ladies felt like they were in danger, until he produced the weapon," said the Ocean Springs police chief, as he reviewed the facts in a pair of robberies and a sexual assault.

The suspect first approached his victims in the Ocean Springs Wal Mart parking lot.

"Wal Mart is a very busy store. And it may have just been the right spot because he knew there would be business there and people coming in and out," said police chief Lionel Cothern.

In both cases, the assailant pleaded for a ride, claiming his car had broken down. Victim number one said "no."

"The first one, unfortunately had a six-month-old child that she had just put in the vehicle and was loading her groceries, refused to give the ride. And that's when he jumped in her vehicle," says Cothern.

The suspect, described as a "baby faced" young man with a slight built and a pony tail, then pulled a gun on the first victim. He drove her a short distance away from the Wal Mart, where he sexually assaulted and robbed her.

The second crime also began in the store parking lot. He again asked for a ride.

"The young lady offered a ride when he requested it. And basically he, once he told her where to turn at, did the same action and produced a hand gun. Fortunately, the young lady was able to escape from him and run for help to a local residence," said the chief.

As police continue their search for clues, the police chief was surprised by a full page ad in today's USA Today. It's the sketch of a suspect, wanted for killing a young woman in Raleigh, North Carolina three weeks ago today.

The sketch is eerily similar to the suspect in this case. Both suspects have pony tails and similar facial features.

It caused Chief Cothern to do a double take and issue a warning.

"That's why we're stressing extreme caution," he warns the public.

Investigators should learn more once they review security video tapes from the Wal Mart parking lot.

"They do have surveillance tapes. We're in the process of receiving assistance from Biloxi to enhance them. Try and get the best photo we can get off of this," the chief explained.

Wal Mart issued a statement through its corporate headquarters which says the store is fully cooperating with the investigation. Spokeswoman Sharon Weber also says the store has taken "additional security precautions" since the attacks.

Anyone with any information about the crimes should call Ocean Springs police at (228) 875-2211.

By Steve Phillips

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