HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - Hayward police said they arrested the man who has been targeting teen girls for a month and a half; trying to force them into his car to rob them.
Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban said in a news conference Monday that officers had arrested 22-year-old Sagar Patel from Hayward.
Investigators said he is the man responsible for a string of attempted abductions that started in February. "We're very pleased to bring everyone together announce the arrest and charging of someone who has been plaguing our community for the last couple of months," said Urban.
Investigators said the incidents started February 20th. A teen girl leaving Tennyson High School reported that a man grabbed her and tried to pull her to his car.
The second incident came March 6th, when another teen girl walking from Tennyson said a man forced her into his car, and said he'd shoot her if she resisted.
The third incident happened March 27th as the teen victim walked home from Hayward High School. That girl tells police the man pulled her into his car, and held what she thought a gun. All three girls managed to fight off their attacker and escape unharmed.
Meanwhile, Alameda County is investigating a fourth case, which is why investigators did not release a photo of the suspect. "There is actually one that is actively being investigated by the Alameda County sheriff's office," said Urban.
Investigators say officers staking out the area spotted the suspect last week, and arrested him at his home on the 27000 block of Baldwin Thursday. Officers say a search of the home turned up a knit hat and a replica handgun officers say were used in the attempted abductions.
Patel appeared before a judge Monday for an initial appearance, charged with three counts of attempted kidnapping with intent to commit robbery.
Theresa Drenick from the Alameda County District Attorney's office says it is taking the attempted kidnappings very seriously. "It is a violent and serious felony, yes," said Drenick.
Patel's attorney said neither she, nor her client had a comment Monday.
Students and families near Tennyson and Hayward High Schools were relieved. Janae Perry, a senior at Hayward High School, carries a whistle and pepper spray to deter an attack.
She said students were well aware of the man targeting teen girls. "The school had an assembly and told us about it," said Perry. "Told us not to walk home by ourselves, to stay in groups, stay off our phones - all that stuff."
Perry's Grandmother, Maria Gonzalez, said she was relieved to hear of the arrest. Gonzalez is the one who bought Perry the whistle, and she said she's glad she never had to use it in earnest. "I was concerned 'cause she walks home most of the time," said Gonzalez.