Rape suspect raises some concerns on BC campus

Cassandra McGowan, Reporter

A string of sexual assaults over the past two months have brought forth some concerns for northeast Bakersfield residents as well as students on the Bakersfield College campus.

On July 18, the first sexual assault was reported to the Bakersfield Police Department. Then two subsequent reports of sexual assault, one on Aug. 1, and the last one reported was on Aug. 18, according to BPD’s Public Information Officer Michaela Sims.

All three victims describe the suspect in almost an exact manner, which has prompted Bakersfield law enforcement officials to start investigating the suspect as a serial rapist.

All three sexual assaults took place in northeast Bakersfield and with the fall semester just under way, Sims said there is “increased patrol in the northeast area of town.”

First-year BC student Stephanie Frank, 22, says that she feels safe on the actual campus where there is a large amount of people but that she more than likely wouldn’t feel so safe if she was walking to her car in the parking lot at night or “where you could be cornered and alone.”  Frank also stated that she did not see many campus police around the college.

BC’s public safety Sergeant Chris Counts declined to comment on whether or not they had added any extra officers on campus but did say that they had received a grant which allowed them to purchase more T3s for the current officers to be “more visible” throughout campus.

Billy Avila, 32, says he and his wife both attend school at BC and that they also live near where the last reported sexual assault took place.  Avila said that if he were to see any man trying to accost a woman on or around campus that he would “probably try to beat him up.”

Avila was concerned for his wife’s safety and has taken extra precautions at his home to prevent anything from happening to his wife and daughter, who he says has been sleeping in his room since the most recent incident.

He said, “I’m constantly checking the rooms at night to make sure my kids are all fine.”  Avila adds that if you have an alarm system on your home that you should turn it on even when you’re home just for added security.

The so-called serial rapist has yet to be captured by law enforcement and officials are asking that if anyone sees anything suspicious in regard to this suspect that you do not confront him, as he is believed to be armed and dangerous.  The BPD and Kern County Sheriff’s Office are suggesting that people use caution until this suspect is apprehended, and to constantly be aware of surroundings, lock all doors and windows, check who is at the door before opening it, and that if any unusual noises are heard at night do not hesitate to call 911.

The BPD’s crime alert states, “The suspect is described as a Black male with a dark complexion, in his late 20’s to 30’s, 5’8” to 6’0” tall with a medium build.  He has been seen wearing a black ski mask, dark hooded sweatshirt and shorts.  In the most recent case he was in possession of a handgun.”