By John Lynds
A grainy surveillance image circulating on social media prompted a suspect wanted in connection with a sexual assault last week to turn himself into police.
Miguel Angel Zelaya-Garcia, 25, of East Boston was arraigned and plead not guilty to indecent assault and battery charges. Judge John McDonald ordered Garcia to be held on $500 cash bail.
Last Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. a Eastie woman living on Brooks Street called police to report she had been allegedly sexually assaulted. She told police that a man came up behind her and allegedly stuck his hand up her skirt and ‘groped’ her before running away towards Condor Street.
The next day police released surveillance footage of the suspect taken from a camera at local towing company on Condor Street. The victim identified the man on the video as her assailant. The suspect was described as a male, 18-25 years of age, standing 5’6” tall, unknown race or ethnicity, that was last seen wearing a grey sweatshirt and khaki pants.
With a manhunt for the suspect underway, Garcia entered the District A-7 police station on Wednesday and told police he saw on social media that he was being sought for the sexual assault. He told detectives that he thought the victim was a woman he knew on Brooks Street and followed her for a few blocks before she dropped her keys. Garcia said he walked up right behind her which prompted her to ‘yell at him’ and that she was going to ‘call police’.
In a statement the Boston Police Department thanked members of the Eastie community who assisted with information in this investigation.
Police also reminded the public that if you’re a victim of a sexual assault that has or has not been reported to police and would feel more comfortable seeking confidential advice from a non-law enforcement agency or representative, you can call the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) at 1 (800) 841-8371. BARCC provides free and confidential counseling, case management, legal and medical advocacy services to survivors in the greater Boston area. To learn more about BARCC, please click on the enclosed link: www.barcc.org
Police also released tips for ensuring safety. The BPD encourages individuals to review the department’s safety tips with the understanding that, while these tips are designed to decrease and diminish the likelihood of an attack, no victim is ever to blame for the actions of an attacker.
The tips are:
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Keep your head up. Make quick eye contact with those around you and when possible try to avoid poorly lit or isolated areas.
- When possible, walk with friends and people you know especially late at night.
- Avoid the distractions created when talking on a cell phone or listening to an iPod/similar device. Avoid wearing ear buds or headphones in both ears.
- If you believe someone is following you, change direction, cross the street, seek a populated location and call 911.
- Remember descriptive information about the person following you to report to the police.
- If confronted, believe in your ability to fight back and defend yourself. Creating distance and yelling words like: “fire”, “help” or “rape” are effective ways of drawing attention and alerting people that you need help.
- Keep your car keys in your hand to use as a weapon to ward off an attack.
- Trust your instincts and understand that anyone at any time can be a victim of crime. Never assume: “It won’t ever happen to me.”