By Melissa Garcia

THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4)– Police are searching for the suspect who attacked a young girl outside of her dance studio and have released a sketch in hopes of catching the man wanted for sexual assault on a child.

The attack happened near W. 84th Avenue and Huron Street in Thornton last Wednesday.

Police say the 13-year-old victim had just left a dance class at Urban Acrobatics around 7 p.m. on Dec. 16. She was walking with her friend and her friend’s mom to their car in the parking lot, when they saw a strange man lurking outside.

“They felt uncomfortable,” said Thornton Police spokesman Matt Barnes. “The two girls started to run to the car. They were able to get inside the car but were unable to lock the doors, at which time the suspect opened up the door, and began assaulting one of the juveniles.”

A sketch of the sexual assault suspect (credit: Thornton Police)

A sketch of the sexual assault suspect (credit: Thornton Police)

Barnes said the young victim fought off her attacker by kicking him in the face, while her friend’s mom pulled her from the car.

The suspect ran off. Police used K9 officers but were unable to track him down.

“This is very brazen,” said Barnes. “There were a lot of people in the area. He was loitering in the area almost the entire day.”

CBS4's Melissa Garcia interviews Thornton Police spokesman Matt Barnes (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Thornton Police spokesman Matt Barnes (credit: CBS)

“He made an appearance and we asked him to leave,” said Jason Budden, Assistant Manager with Urban Acrobatics.

Budden said the man did leave but returned hours later.

“We are working very closely with the police to make sure that the suspect is apprehended as quickly as possible,” said Budden.

A sketch of the tattoo on the sexual assault suspect (credit: Thornton Police)

A sketch of the tattoo on the sexual assault suspect (credit: Thornton Police)

Witnesses helped police with a composite sketch of the suspect. He’s described as a 5-foot-10 Hispanic male weighing 160-180 pounds. He has a muscular or husky build, a thin chin strap beard and acne scars on his face. Witnesses said he has tattoos on both hands and arms, including a distinctive cross tattooed on his forearm.

According to witnesses, the suspect told them that he was from Miami, staying with friends in the area and seeking work.

“We’re not sure if he was stalking females at this particular dance studio or not, or whether he was just in the area and then took a crime of opportunity,” said Barnes.

Police have increased patrol in the area since the attack. They’re asking everyone to be aware of their surroundings and to call law enforcement with any information on the suspect.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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