FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida community remains on edge following a home invasion and sexual assault that unfolded in a Fort Lauderdale apartment complex. The horrifying incident has left residents deeply concerned and prompted a police search for the assailant.

According to authorities, the assailant forcibly entered the victim’s home, threatened to kill her while holding a screwdriver, and sexually assaulted her on Sunday night.

The assailant’s approach was brazen, as he hopped over a fence to access the apartment complex through its rear entrance. Neighbors said that the victim had mentioned feeling watched by the perpetrator for some time before the attack occurred.

A Fort Lauderdale Police Department unit was outside the Pine Crest Apartments along Northeast 18th Avenue and 59th Street, Monday afternoon as they patrolled the area following the heinous attack. Neighbors of the complex said they are worried and want the sexual predator to be captured soon.

“Everyone is locking their doors now,” said Jorge, a resident who wanted to be off-camera. “They’re all afraid. They went out to buy pepper spray, they went out to buy dogs because they’re alone, they’re afraid.”

“This is scary because sometimes I go to work and my wife stays by herself,” said an anonymous resident.

The sense of vulnerability and fear has deeply affected the community, as residents like Jeanine Cooper, a sexual assault survivor herself, grapple with the unsettling reality.

“I live alone and I live across the street,” Cooper shared. “What comes to mind is, well, how vulnerable and how that could happen. You’re in your own apartment, and you feel you’re safe—how someone gets in—I can’t even begin to imagine.”

Cooper’s own experiences have led her to carry a taser as a precaution, reflecting the profound impact of the recent incident.

“It breaks my heart, it really does,” she said. “I was a sexual assault survivor years ago, it’s somewhat retraumatizing you know, I just got chills.”

Cooper said she arrived home around the same time. “That could’ve been me,” she continued.

Residents are now calling for increased security measures within the complex, including improved lighting, functioning security locks, and surveillance cameras.

“The complex used to be either with cameras or some kind of security,” said the anonymous resident.

The property manager did not want to show their face or speak to 7News, but many residents had a lot on their minds.

“No security locks, has no lights in the back of the hallway back there in the alleyways, it’s completely dark and black,” said Jorge. “The gates here in the front don’t function either. So, we’re afraid. I mean, everybody is on edge here.”

Neighbors said the woman who survived the attack has not returned home.

“Myheartfelt prayers really go out to this woman

Police are urging nearby neighbors to review their surveillance footage for any signs of the assailant in the area during the time of the incident, which occurred on Friday.

They’re looking for a man in his 30s, with a muscular build, clean-shaven, has dreadlocks down to his neck and is about six-feet tall.

If you have any information on this incident or the subject’s whereabouts, contact FLPD Detective Sgt. Hector Martinez at 954-828-5510, email Detective Christopher Chylack at, or call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

Remember, Crime Stoppers callers can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.

Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox