By Peter D'Oench

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Police and neighbors are appealing for the community’s help after the sexual battery of a woman who was walking on Middle River Drive in Fort Lauderdale.

“We should be safe on our streets,” said neighbor Carolyn Kannon.

Another neighbor, Syra Seda, said, “I am scared. There are two women in the house, my daughter and I.”

Fort Lauderdale Police Det. Tracy Figone told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the attack happened as the woman was walking southbound in the 2600 block of Middle River Drive towards Oakland Park Boulevard at 1:30 a.m. last Thursday.

She said the woman was approached by a man who tackled her and sexually battered her on the front lawn of an apartment complex next to the road. The suspect fled in an unknown direction.

“The victim attempted to call for help and she was knocking on doors when police arrived,” Figone said.

Figone said the victim was transported to a sexual assault treatment center.

“We are asking the community and whoever may have heard or seen anything to help us identify this man. This man forcefully took a victim and sexually battered her against her will,” Figone said.

Seda said she heard a woman’s screams at the exact same time the attack happened.

“We heard somebody screaming, a woman screaming,” said Seda. “But we did not look out. It wasn’t a continuous scream. It was one big long scream. If it was something continuous, I would have tried to look out. But it was not.”

Police describe the suspect as a white male, with a large build.

“He is between 240 and 260 pounds,” said Figone.

He is about 40 to 45 years old and is between 5’11” and 6’ and he may have a tattoo on his lower right leg that may have an oriental theme on it.

“We will need to identify him and stop him from ever doing this again,” said Figone. “We are asking that anyone who may have been passing by the area at the time, even if you think it was something small, to call detectives and Crime Stoppers and give us the information,” said Figone.

Neighbor Mark Munroe said, “We’re being extremely cautious. Now we leave the lights on and make sure that anytime we do hear something we check to see what’s going on outside. Nobody should go through that. You should feel free to walk up and down the street.”

“This is terrible what happened here,” said Seda. “I feel very strongly about that.”

Figone said the victim was eager to help police. She said police do not know if the suspect has attacked anyone else.

She said as far as she knows, police have not discovered any surveillance tape of the suspect but it is an open investigation.

Anyone with information should call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).

There is a reward of up to $3,000.

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