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AUSTINTOWN CRIME Police investigate robbery at eatery, assault



Published: Sat, November 6, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call police.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Police are continuing to ask local residents for help tracking down a man who sexually assaulted two teenage girls at gunpoint in a field near Fitch High School.

They're also looking for help finding a man who robbed an Antone's employee earlier this week outside of the restaurant on Mahoning Avenue.

The man who assaulted the girls is described as in his 20s or 30s, between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds. He's white with a stocky build and brown hair that's cut short, and the teens said he was wearing blue jeans and a black dress shirt with a collar.

Detective Sgt. Ray Holmes said that since the attack Sept. 30, he's followed up on about a dozen tips from local residents to no avail. He added that although the case has been frustrating, he hopes a tip from a resident can lead police to the attacker.

"We get that one little tip, even if it's not important to them, we may find it of value," Holmes said.

Threatened with gun

Reports state that the girls, 13 and 14, were walking west on Falcon Drive near the Austintown library to the home of one of the girls about 9 p.m. when they noticed the man heading toward them. The girls said the man walked past them, then turned around and pointed a handgun at them.

He ordered the girls into the field behind the Fitch tennis courts, where he sexually assaulted them, police said.

Holmes said it was the first sexual attack in the township in about 26 years in which the victim didn't know the attacker.

Austintown Schools Superintendent Stan Watson noted that in the wake of the attack, school officials told students to be careful walking in the area, which is poorly lighted and near a wooded lot.

"We're certainly concerned about that area and the possibility of [the attacker] still walking around down there," he said.

Watson noted that the lighting in the area should improve once the new middle school is constructed nearby on South Raccoon Road.

Robbery at Antone's

Police describe the man who robbed the Antone's employee Tuesday as in his late teens or early 20s, between 5 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds with a thin to medium build. He was wearing a black baseball cap and a navy blue sweat shirt with a hood pulled tight around his face, so witnesses were not able to give police his race.

Detective Sgt. Dan Kosco said he is interviewing witnesses in the case.

The employee told police she was leaving the restaurant about 10:30 p.m. with the restaurant deposit bag when she was approached by a man wearing a black baseball cap and a hooded sweat shirt. The man demanded the money but the employee refused, thinking it was a prank, police said. The man then grabbed the bag and ran.

Anyone with information about the robbery or the attack is asked to call police at (330) 799-9721. Those with information about the robbery should ask for Kosco; those with information about the attack should ask for Holmes.

hill@vindy.com




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