A man faces charges of sexually assaulting a girl in a Whittier grocery store, and investigators believe he may have more victims.
The attack took place Sunday at about 2 p.m. at Stater Bros. on Mulberry Drive. Witness accounts on social media say the man followed a girl to the store’s public bathrooms, pulled her inside and locked the door.
The girl screamed for help. Store employees rushed to open the door, while other customers at the store rushed in to pull her away and hold him down until Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
“There was two guys on top of him, pinning him down,” said Frankie Contreras, who was in the store with his mother when the incident happened. “Those are Good Samaritans right there.”
The girl was given medical treatment at a local hospital.
Authorities identified the suspect as Steven Magdaleno, 39, noting that he was being held on $250,000 bail. He appeared in court Tuesday, where he was charged with one felony count of assault to commit rape, false imprisonment by violence and attempting to escape from custody. He also faces a misdemeanor count of providing false information to authorities.
“It is appalling that someone tried to sexually assault a 16-year-old girl in the middle of the day in a grocery store restroom,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. “Brazen crimes like these are shocking to the entire community because the girl and her family should have felt safe in that space.”
“I am thankful to the customers and store employees who showed bravery and courage in intervening on this victim’s behalf,” the statement continued.
Sheriff’s officials released the suspect’s booking photo because detectives believe there may be more, unidentified victims.