Fairfax County police have created an internal task force to track down the man they say has attacked at least nine young women in shopping malls across the county in recent months, police said Friday.
The attacker, who police believe has been targeting teenagers and young women since at least February, comes up behind his victims and uses a box cutter or razor to slash at their buttocks. Three women came forward this week to report that they were also victims of the seemingly random attacks in February and March.
None of the women have been seriously injured.
Although there have been no reports of similar attacks outside Fairfax, police also met Friday with officers from neighboring counties to expand the reach of the investigation, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.
“This was an opportunity for outside agencies to learn what was going on and hopefully be ready in case they see a similar situation,” Caldwell said.
The attacks began in February at Fair Oaks Mall, where five of the incidents have occurred.
Two attacks occurred at Tysons Corner Center, one was reported at Marshalls at the Greenbriar Shopping Center and another at the T.J. Maxx at Fairfax Towne Center. The most recent attack occurred July 25, police said.
Caldwell said the task force was modeled after collaboration between departments that led to the arrest of Brad K. Edmonds, 35, of Oxon Hill, who police said committed more than 100 burglaries or attempted break-ins around the Washington area. Edmonds was subsequently convicted of breaking into a Montgomery County house and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
The suspect in the Fairfax attacks, whose image has been caught on surveillance tapes, is described as a heavyset, 5-foot-6 Latino in his late 20s, police said.