CLEARWATER, Fla.- It happened in the dark pre-dawn hours Tuesday morning. Pinellas County sheriff's deputies say a student walking along the sidewalk on Whitney Road just east of U.S. 19 was attacked and sexually battered on her way to the bus stop.
"At some point, this individual comes up from behinds her, attacks her, and basically pulls her out of view," said Pinellas Sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.
Deputies say the 17-year-old victim eventually managed to escape, running home, where parents called 911.
Montarius Boyd is a senior at Pinellas Park High School and said he rides the same school bus with the victim. "It happened right there. It was right next to us and we just could not see the guy. We just couldn't see him," said Boyd, who has a 15-year-old sister of his own. He said his parents are especially concerned since no one's been caught.
"Even my own mother was asking a lot of questions," said Boyd. "She wants me to pay close attention to my sister, walking the dogs with her, walking to the bus stop, you know. The protection of this whole neighborhood has just shot through the roof."
Deputies have a very limited description of the suspect. They say only that he's a black male, 25-30 years old, with a medium build, and he was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt.
While the sheriff's office promises beefed up patrols in the area before and after school, students admit feeling fear.
"I definitely won't be walking anywhere by myself," said 16-year-old Heather Rease. "I usually have to walk to work and I can't even do that anymore knowing there is someone right here that could just come out of nowhere and just grab me and go."