Surveillance cameras captured the moment a violent transient sexually assaulted a woman in broad daylight in downtown Long Beach.
The brazen attack occurred on Oct. 20 at 2:15 p.m. in front of Village Market in the 140 block of Linden Avenue, and many residents and local businesses are saying this area of Long Beach has grown increasingly dangerous.
The victim was walking innocently down the street when video shows the suspect, now identified by police as 30-year-old Miguel Avila, sitting on the sidewalk before getting up and following the woman. Avila approaches the woman from behind, exposes himself and sexually assaults her as she falls to the ground.
Nearby, a Good Samaritan gets up and appears to intervene as the 30-year-old runs away.
“It was horrifying to see,” Long Beach resident Jason Greenleaf told KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff. “I mean, this neighborhood is out of control.”
The victim, identified only as Rebecca, told KTLA that the whole incident was “mind boggling.” A hairstylist at a local salon, she said she was walking to lunch at the time.
“I’m okay. I’m just a bit more spooked, you know. Someone comes up behind me and I’m a little bit more reactive,” she said.
Rebecca added that she’s worried for other women in the area and that she will personally be taking specific precautions from now on.
“Every woman needs to be armed with something to protect themselves and take defense classes,” she explained. “That’s what I’m about to start doing.”
The unsettling video has been shared widely as an example of the growing violence in Long Beach’s downtown corridor – a problem that some say has impacted the security of local businesses and residents with many people afraid to venture out at night.
Videos show teens terrorizing residents of Long Beach apartment complex
“The police call this area ‘The Beast,’” Greenleaf said. “They say they don’t have enough officers to patrol the area and they tell us not to do anything. We’re in a predicament.”
According to authorities, Avila is homeless. He was eventually arrested not far from where the assault happened. He has been charged with sexual battery and is being held on $1,000 bail.
Resident Joe Harding, who lives and works downtown, said he’s been talking to the city about solutions for these types of attacks. He said that while homelessness is on the rise, there’s more to the problem.
“A lot of people just want to use the word ‘homeless’ as a blanket description, but we don’t like that term,” he said. “Those that are out on the streets that are violent, that are addicted, mentally unstable, perpetually homeless and kind of socially inept are adding to the problems that we have here.”
The convenience and walkability of downtown is why Stephanie Gonzalez said she moved to the neighborhood but added that she’s discouraged after hearing of this assault and others in the area.
“Especially as a woman, I take pride in being able to somewhat confidently walk these streets and not feel like I’m going to be attacked or sexually assaulted,” she told Menitoff. “It’s really difficult to not able to feel safe in the streets. I live really close to here, so it’s overall disheartening.”
Other residents who spoke to KTLA mentioned Metro’s end-of-line policy, which requires all riders to get off the train at the end of the night in downtown Long Beach, as a contributing factor to the homeless crisis and violent crime.
For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KTLA.