The Monday attack of a teen who was cut by a stranger at a Fairfax County shopping mall is the fifth in a series of similar attacks, Fairfax County police said Tuesday.
Police on Tuesday released additional details about the slashings, which began in February. In each case, the suspect distracts the victim before slashing them with a box cutter or razor, said police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell. All the victims have been young
women in their 20s or teenagers, she said.
“The attacks do appear random," Caldwell said. “Certainly no one would be expecting or suspecting anything like this to occur.”
The incidents have occurred in afternoon or evening, when the stores are likely to be busy, she said.
In Monday’s incident, an 18-year-old was browsing in the XXI Forever store in Fair Oaks Mall around 5:30 p.m. when she noticed a man behind her bending down to pick up clothes that had fallen off the rack, Caldwell said. She felt a sudden pain and thought that she might have been poked by a hanger, according to police. She then noticed she was bleeding. Her denim shorts had been slashed.
The woman suffered a 1.5-inch wound, police said.
Of the five attacks, three occurred at Fair Oaks Mall, police said They said the first incident happened on Valentine’s Day near the indoor entrance to the Champps Restaurant, and another was reported on May 16 in the Ann Taylor store.
Two other recent cases occurred at the H&M in Tyson’s Corner around 8:30 p.m. June 10, and at the Marshalls in the Greenbriar Shopping Center on June 20 around 2:45 p.m., police said.
The suspect, who was caught on surveillance tapes, is described as a heavy-set 5'6'' Latino in his late 20s, police said. He wore white shorts and a short-sleeved shirt in Monday's attack.
“This is certainly concerning, and we're taking it very seriously,” Caldwell said. “We haven't heard of anything like this before. This is very unusual.”