Detroit police are turning their precincts into bus stops, hoping to curb a serial rapist accused of sexually attacking seven women and attempting to attack another.
"We are not going to let this monster cripple us," Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said at a press conference today. "We just want the community to understand that we are going to stay vigilant about this. We're going to maintain control of the situation, but we're not going to stop until we catch this individual."
Since the beginning of January, a man has raped seven women in northeast Detroit. All of the women are African American, ranging in age from 17 to 33, police said. The most recent attack occurred Friday, Jan. 14.
A 19-year-old victim of one of the attacks, described the ordeal to ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV.
"He ran up to me with a gun, he robbed me for my money, took me in the backyard and he raped me, made me stand in the backyard naked until he left…and he told me he was going to kill me," she said.
Police believe the attack is the work of one man who is a stranger to all of the women assaulted by him, Police Chief Godbee said.
Seven of the women were waiting or walking from a bus stop when a man attacked them. The assaults have all occurred after dark.
Police launched "Operation Safe Wait" today. They have arranged for Detroit bus drivers to stop at eight police precincts along their routes. Female passengers can wait at the precincts if they are worried about their safety.
"I have family. I have nieces, so we are concerned and we're all willing to do whatever we can...to help your fellow riders be safe," Darlene Granger, a Detroit resident, told WXYZ.
Police provided bus drivers with sketches of the suspect.
"Right now, he's probably hiding because we're looking for him, all of us," one bus driver told WXYZ.
Since the rapist first attacked on New Year's Day just before 6 a.m., Detroit police have stepped up patrols of northeast Detroit. Chief Godbee said that police have taken nine men into custody from the area where the attacks occurred. The men were brought in on charges ranging from outstanding traffic warrants to carrying a concealed weapon.
Police hope scientific evidence currently being analyzed will help them figure out if they've nabbed the rapist.
"The science is going to be critical from this point forward," Godbee said. "Once we have the lab results, this will allow us to exclude any possible suspects, confirm the identiy of the supect and/or connect a suspect to these crimes to confirm what we actually believe is a pattern based on the M.O. [mode of operation]."
The results from the lab testing should be available in a matter of days, Godbee said.
Godbee said that the "Operation Safe Wait" initiative is not enough to thwart the attacker. Detroit residents must also stay vigilant.
"If something doesn't feel right, we want our citizens to act on that. If it feels bad, there's a good possibility there's something wrong," Godbee said.
Police encouraged men to escort female family members and friends. A group called the Detroit 300 is helping patrol the neighborhood.
Police have received 87 tips since the first attack.
The names of the women who were attacked have not been released. Godbee said that the women are doing well and none is hospitalized.
"I do want to commend them on their courage," Godbee said. "For the sketches that you see behind us, obviously these women had to recount and relive this horrible siutation."
Police believe that one person is responsible for all the rapes.
ABC Affiliate WXYZ-TV contributed to this report.