Feb. 12, 2011 -- A quick-thinking 12-year-old Florida girl was able to escape a man who grabbed her near a church and tried to rape her, and with the assault captured on video police said they may now have an image of the suspect in two other similar attacks.
The Gold Star Club of Manatee County announced today it is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, the unidentified suspect was caught on surveillance video Thursday following the girl home from school.
In the tape, a man is seen following the girl, then grabbing her from behind and carrying her to a tree, where police said he tried to rape her.
But police said the girl was able to escape, when she told her would-be assailant that there were people nearby watching him.
The man ran off, leaving the girl there, police said.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, the attempted sexual assault is similar to two other recent cases in the area.
On Nov. 29, 2010, a man grabbed a 15-year old girl, but ran after the girl resisted.
And in Bradenton, police are investigating a sexual assault against a 15-year old girl that occurred on Jan. 31. In that incident, the girl did not escape, police said.
"I think we've got a predator out there," Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said. "We need everybody's help and everybody's eyes out here."
The suspect is described as a black male, 30-40 years old, approximately 6 feet tall, with a thin build. He was wearing a dark hoodie with black basketball shorts.
There are a handful of schools within the area where the attacks occurred -- including Bayshore High School, Bayshore Elementary School, The Pendleton School, Lee Middle School and Central High School -- so police were advising parents and children to be more cautious until the suspect is captured.
Steube said children should stay where there are plenty of people and should always try to walk in groups, not alone.
Parents should drive their children to and from school, or if that is not possible then to have another adult drive them.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.