The alleged suspect in the sexual assault of three young girls in Lancaster has been taken into custody.
Andrew Ortega, a twenty one year old Lancaster resident has been arrested for three sexual assaults at SierraElementary school in Lancaster.
The crime occurred on Tuesday morning, when a man fondled three 7 year old girls outside of their classroom. The man ran away when caught by a teacher’s aid.
A major break in the case came when the suspect, whom Sheriff’s officials believe to be Ortega, ran from the school into a nearby hospital parking lot. The hospital has surveillance camera, which captured the suspect in the described clothing getting into his car. The car was unique in description, because it was a silver American made compact vehicle with one hubcap missing.
At a press conference this morning, Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau Captain Joe Gutierrez described that the vehicle was spotted at 9:00pm last night by patrol deputies from the Lancaster station. Special Victims investigators then conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of Ortega at his workplace.
Ortega’s home is located less than a mile away from Sierra School. In his home, investigators found clothing matching the description given by eyewitnesses and seen on the video surveillance. It was also determined that Ortega had cut his hair the day of the incident, and electric clippers were found in his vehicle.
There was another sexual assault last Thursday at Mariposa Elementary school. Captain Gutierrez stated that the crime was similar in nature to the Sierra incident, and the suspect description was also similar.
In regards to Ortega’s past, Captain Gutierrez also noted that Ortega “does have a history,” but could not go into detail about it. The lack of comment on Ortega’s previous actions may be due to issues relating to the realm of his juvenile years.
Lancaster Sheriff’s station Captain Carl Deeley also weighed in on his station’s efforts saying; “We ran out of radio cars…people didn’t want to go home.” In that, he was referring to the fact that many deputies stayed on shift to continue to search for the suspect.
Currently, Ortega has been charged with lewd acts with a child under the age of 14, however, he said that there will be numerous counts on him.
The bail amount is set at $100,000, but could change in the very near future.
Lancaster Mayor Reverend Henry Hearns was on hand to issue a firm warning to potential criminals in the area. “There are no hiding places in Lancaster,” he said.
The hunt for the suspect was also aided by LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich who put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.