MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach police have asked the public for help as they search for a man they suspect sexually battered a young girl over the weekend.
On Wednesday, they released a picture of the shirt the man was wearing at the time. They said it was an off-white or gray shirt with the number 3 on it – possibly a soccer jersey.
The man himself was described as being in his mid-20s to mid-30s, about 5’6″, had a square build with light brown shaggy hair.
“We need to find this guy,” said one officer as he handed out the flyer.
The incident happened around 6:30 Sunday night. The man allegedly lured the 7-year old girl from an open park space at 79th Street to a port-a-potty at a nearby construction site. He then reportedly told the girl he had a knife and proceeded to touch her inappropriately.
The girl’s father had lost track of her after taking her and her three siblings to the beach. He said when he saw his daughter with the man coming out of some bushes he chased after him but couldn’t catch him.
“It’s been shocking. This is a safe place to come. I come here. My husband comes here. It’s a heartbreaking situation,” said Deborah Ruggerio.
Ruggerio told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “If you know anything please help police with this.”
“To do that on a minor, who would think of such a thing to do,” said Ben River.
On Wednesday, police handed out flyers with a picture of the jersey and the man’s description hoping to jog some memories.
“This is a very dangerous individual. This is our number one priority,” said Miami Beach police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
Willie Prather said he saw the suspect on Sunday, the day of the incident.
Prather, who says he spends a lot of time at the beach, said, “It’s just like the description in this flyer. He was closer to 5’4″ tall and had a square build and was clean cut like he had been doing work outs.”
Police are asking the public for photos that were taken in the area that day. They can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you were out there at the time send us your photos,” said Rodriguez. “There may be some investigative leads for us.”
Miami Beach resident Renee Cologn showed cell phone that she took on the day of the incident. And while police said it did not capture the suspect, she said she was still going to send her video to Miami Beach Police.
She also told D’Oench she was horrified by the incident.
“He should be under the jail, not in the jail. He should be under the jail,” she said. “This is just terrible.”
Anyone with information on who the man is can call Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).