LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Police have arrested a suspect in two sex assault cases where random victims were attacked just a half-hour apart. Now they are working to find out whether the same man could be connected to a third Lakewood attack.
“It’s a very scary M.O. for these attacks. These victims were going about their normal business,” said Detective Ryan McKone of the Lakewood Police Department.
Two women, victims of two sex assaults, have lead police to the arrest of Eric Jay Garcia. The 36-year-old is facing charges for two counts of criminal attempt sex assault, unlawful sexual contact, and two counts of third-degree assault.
“What makes it so unusual is that these are complete strangers. We have not been able to establish any kind of link,” McKone said.
The first sex assault took place on Dec. 18 near Colfax and Wadsworth as a woman was walking to her car around 7 p.m. The second happened just 20 minutes later as a woman was attacked leaving her car near Jewel and Kipling.
“The surprise sex assaults are very uncommon and very rare, not only in Lakewood or in Denver, but across the nation,” McKone said.
DNA from a previous arrest and other evidence links Garcia to the crimes. Now police are investigating a possible connection between Garcia and another violent sexual assault in Lakewood on Dec. 12 where the suspect crashed into the victim’s car then assaulted her.
CBS4 spoke with the suspect’s mother who did not want to go on camera. She said she is shocked by the charges against her son and has spoken to him since his arrest. She told CBS4 Garcia claims to be innocent.
Mildred Floyd lives a few doors away from Garcia in Lakewood.
“He never said anything directly to anybody here as far as the females are concerned,” Floyd said.
Floyd says living near a man accused of such violent crimes is frightening.
“You never really know who you are living next door to.”
It took police just 10 days to track down their suspect. Lakewood police say the victims in both attacks fought back, stayed calm, and provided excellent suspect description.
Police say attack victims should always fight back and use pepper spray if they have it. Car keys can be just as effective. Go for the soft spots like eyes, throat and stomach.
Anyone with information about this case or any other sexual assault is asked to call the police.
- Written by Nina Sparano