MORENO VALLEY – Riverside County sheriff’s investigators are in search of a 19-year-old gang member thought to be one of seven individuals who reportedly raped an 11-year-old girl in a park restroom earlier this month.
Six juveniles have already been arrested in the chilling gang rape. The Moreno Valley Investigations Unit and Special Enforcement Team is still seeking Michael Sykes, the seventh suspect in the attack. Deputies say he is likely hiding in the Los Angeles area, about one hour from Moreno Valley.
The case was not publicized until Sunday. Further details were not available, said investigator Matt Diaz.
According to a release, “the female victim reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a group of black male subjects in the bathroom.”
The attacks, say reports, took place at Victoriano Park on Thursday, March 10. The park is located just north of Iris Avenue, a main artery through the city of nearly 190,000.
The juvenile suspects were charged with sexual assault on a child and booked into Riverside County Juvenile Hall.
In the press release, Capt. John Anderson, chief of the Moreno Valley station, said all six juveniles were associating with a street gang in the city. Anderson also said the area of Victoriano Park is not a regular gang hangout, nor is it considered a high crime area.
He called the rape an isolated incident.
“As a father, even as a police officer, there are crimes that shock us,” he said. “This is one of them.”
Anderson said there was no current information available on the investigation, saying deputies found some of the suspects quickly. Diaz said the delay in reporting the crime is not uncommon if there’s a feeling that an investigation could be jeopardized.
Detective Duke Vivaros is conducting the investigation, according to the release. A warrant for Sykes’ arrest has been issued.