Girl assaulted inside Fridley Walmartby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Anoka County Sheriff's Office is investigating what it calls a "bold, daytime sexual assault" of a child at a Walmart in Fridley on Dec. 26.
The alleged assault occurred about 2:10 p.m. inside the store at 8450 University Ave NE, the sheriff's office said. The girl, who is under the age of 13, was with her mother and an older sibling in the electronics department when she was groped by a stranger, said Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.
The incident was captured on the store's security cameras and Walmart security provided the footage to investigators. Sommer said the footage shows the suspect calmly entering the store and looking for possible victims.
"It's eerie to see him stalking the young girl almost like a predator would stalk its prey," he said. "And then you see the crime itself. You see the expression on the girl's face, and we're able to track him as he makes his escape."
The girl immediately reported the assault to her mother and Walmart employees called police. No one has been arrested in connection with the incident.
Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee declined to discuss the store's security measures.
"Clearly, this is unacceptable behavior," she said. "It's disturbing. We take matters like this very seriously. What we've done is we have provided information, such as surveillance video, to the local authorities for their investigation in hopes that they can identify this individual."
Law enforcement officials said they hope someone who knows the suspect will contact police.
"If you've got somebody who's this brazen and this bold to do this kind of an attack in a public place, which is very crowded and with the victim standing right next to her parent, we're concerned what is this individual capable of," Sommer said.
Law enforcement describe the suspect as a white man, approximately 30 years old, with an average build and sparse facial hair. The security footage shows the man wearing what law enforcement called a "Duck Brown colored work type hooded jacket" and a "black stocking hat with red flames on the top."
The sheriff's office said it will not release any video footage that includes the alleged victim.