WHITTIER >> Officials cautioned the public Thursday about two strikingly similar incidents this week in which two teenage girls were approached by a man who exposed himself to them.
The indecent exposures took place minutes apart early Tuesday near Richard L. Graves Middle School in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, as well Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Springs, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
The first encounter took place about 8:30 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Laurel Avenue, around the corner from Graves Middle School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
A 14-year-old girl was walking when a man began following her, he said.
“He exposed himself and was masturbating as she was walking,” Navares said.
When the girl took notice of what was happening, the man fled.
Navares said the girl reported the incident to school police. Officials found a man matching the description, but he bolted from officials and was not found.
About 15 minutes later, police in Santa Fe Springs were notified of a similar encounter two miles away as a female Santa Fe High School student was walking at Florence Avenue and Pioneer Boulevard in Santa Fe Springs, less than a mile from the campus, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“A Santa Fe High student reported to the Whittier (Police Department) school resource officer that a male had exposed himself to her while walking to school,” according to the statement.
The suspect descriptions in the two incidents were consistent, however officials had not yet determined whether both were committed by the same man, Sgt. Jose Navares of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said.
In both cases, the girls described the man as in his late-20s or 30s, about 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, with black wavy hair, wearing a white zip-up jacket and blue jeans.
The suspect in the Santa Fe Springs case was described as Latino, while the man involved in the South Whittier case was described by investigators as having a dark complexion.
Detectives from the Whittier Police Department and the sheriff’s Norwalk Station were working together on the case and trying to develop a sketch of the suspect or suspects.
Parents were notified of the situation by the school district officials, authorities said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Whittier Police Department or the sheriff’s Norwalk Station.
SKETCH courtesy of the Whittier Police Department