The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) is seeking the public’s help in locating a suspect believed to have attacked a woman in the 4000 block of Atlantic Avenue on Wednesday, July 2 around 4:30pm.
According to police, the victim, a 32-year-old Long Beach resident, was wearing a black hijab, a cover worn by Muslim women over their head to conceal their hair and neck. She was parked in a shopping center parking lot adjacent to the alley that runs north and south and just west of the shopping center, and loading items into her car. It was then that she was approached from behind by a male suspect on foot, who took hold of her hijab.
Police say the suspect cursed at the victim while referring to the cover as a “hijab,” indicating he had some knowledge of the Muslim culture. He forcibly pulled and twisted the hijab as he attempted to remove it, which choked the victim, and caused scratches and abrasions to her neck, according to the woman. The suspect then walked southbound down the alley with the hijab.
The victim provided a description of the suspect and worked with detectives to create a composite sketch. The suspect is described as a white male in his 30s, approximately 5’8” to 5’9” tall, wearing a white buttoned-up shirt, black pants, and possibly black shoes, with a thin build, short brown hair, brown eyes and a trimmed brown mustache and beard.
Because of the circumstances, the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. The LBPD has not had any similar crimes reported recently and believes this to be an isolated incident. However, anyone who has been a victim of a similar crime is urged to come forward.
“This incident occurred during the day in a busy shopping center, and we are hoping that someone may have witnessed the encounter or saw the suspect leaving the area, and can provide us with additional information,” stated LBPD Police Chief Jim McDonnell. “Crimes of this nature will not be tolerated in our city, and we will continue our efforts to find the suspect and hold him accountable.”
When asked why police were seeking the public’s help four weeks after the incident, Nancy Pratt, public information officer for the LBPD, indicated that it is standard policy to pursue other avenues before asking for assistance from residents.
“Detectives had been conducting follow-up on leads and reviewing quite a bit of video footage collected from the area in hopes of identifying the suspect or finding additional information to assist in the investigation,” Pratt said. “Once they exhausted all investigative efforts, we moved forward with asking the public for help. This is standard with many of our investigations.”
Anyone with information should contact the LBPD’s Violent Crimes Detail at (562) 570-7250. Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus the tip to CRIMES (274637), or visiting lacrimestoppers.org .