HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - Hollywood Police have arrested a 14-year-old suspect connected to at least one sexual assault.
Terry Berger Smith was arrested just after midnight on Monday and appeared in Juvenile Court on Tuesday. Later that day another victim came forward to say she was nearly victimized by the same teen.
Officials said the initial incident happened in the 300 block of South Park Road at around 4 a.m., on June 10.
“There was a woman walking to work at around 4 a.m.,” said Hollywood Police Officer Christian Lata “and at 4 a.m. she was violently sexually assaulted and battered by the offender.”
The incident occurred several feet away from the police station.
“Because of the severity of the crime, we wanted to get his picture out there,” said Lata. “We wanted the community to know, we wanted women in the area to be vigilant of their surroundings, and it worked.”
“Last night, just before midnight, our Hollywood Police detectives and our SWAT team members, they served an arrest warrant in the 700 block of South Park Road,” said Hollywood Police spokesperson Deanna Bettineschi, “and they took the 14-year-old suspect into custody.”
A second woman came forward Tuesday afternoon to say she was nearly a victim of the 14-year-old.
“I was going up my stairs, and all of a sudden, I felt someone come up from behind me,” said the woman in black. “I turned around to take a look, ’cause you know, you feel when someone is coming up from behind you. As soon as I turned around and I look, this man grabbed me from behind in a choke hold, and I managed to elbow him, kick him and scream as loud as I can, and he obviously got scared and ran away. Thankfully, he wasn’t able to harm me further than that.”
That attack occurred on May 27, and she lives in the same apartment complex as the teen.
“I have the police report here. I filed it, so I was the first one who came forward,” she said, “and then two weeks later, I guess he saw things kind of die down. He got the opportunity to strike again.”
Police said the community coming together and providing a clear photo of the suspect, taken by surveillance footage the night of the assault, helped detectives capture the suspect.
“We’re all happy and thankful that they did catch the guy, because now, we can have some kind of reassurance,” said Maria Solerdubreuil, who lives in the area.
Solerdubreuil said the last few days in the neighborhood have been tense.
“We’ve been very uneasy, you know, in the neighborhood because you’re seeing cops here, not just one car, there’s like 10 cars here,” she said. “We heard what happened to the woman.”
Investigators originally thought the suspect was an older man. Detectives flooded the neighborhood asking questions and worked around the clock until an arrest was made.
Other neighbors saw the aftermath of the attack.
“Like, 12 police just in the industrial park, just there, surveillance in the area,” one woman said.
“We heard that he was in his 20s, but to find out — 20s is still young — but to find out 14, that’s just really sad,” said Solerdubreuil.
The state has requested a 21-day detention and said they are reviewing the case to determine if Smith will be tried in an adult court, along with having no contact with the victim and her family.
“I know that other charges might be forthcoming,” said Lata. “Someone is so crazy enough to do this in front of a police station, what else are they going to do?”
Smith’s next court date is on June 27. That is when they will announce if he will be tried as an adult.
This investigation is ongoing. The other victim’s information could be taken into account but at this time has not been charged with that case.
If you have any information on this crime, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
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