A house of worship on North 13th Street in Tampa turned into a house of horrors for an elderly woman affiliated with the church Thursday. That's when, Tampa police say, an unidentified suspect sexually assaulted the 70-year-old woman inside of the Living Word Fellowship.
Investigators say the suspect in this case told the victim that he wanted to go inside the church so he could get a closer look at the sanctuary.
They say once he was inside, it wasn't long before he pushed the victim down in a chair, covered her mouth and sexually assaulted her.
Police have not yet arrested the suspect but say they are serious about getting him off the streets.
"Any sexual battery, sexual act is very concerning. But this is an elderly woman inside a church, so that takes it to the next level," said Tampa police spokesperson Andrea Davis.
People who live in the area say it's an outrage.
"It frightens me for the elderly that they can't walk to the store in their own neighborhood," said neighbor Pamela Allen-Hoke.
Allen-Hoke is new to the neighborhood and says until the suspect is behind bars, she'll worry.
"I feel that's kinda frightening to us moving in the neighborhood not knowing much about the neighborhood."
Vanessa Nelson has a personal connection with the church. Years ago she took her kids to the day care at Living Word Fellowship.
"It was a good place and they took very good care of the children," said Nelson. "I can't believe that because I never had no problems when I took my children there."
Police say they have officers patrolling the neighborhood constantly and even sent out a reverse 911 call.
People who live in the area say they hope it works and are anxious for police to bring the suspect to justice.
"I don't think that it's safe at all for anyone to be out on the streets when we have this guy on the loose not captured," said Allen-Hoke.
Police say the suspect is a black male in his late 20s or early 30s.
They say he has short hair, a thin build and is between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-11 and was wearing a green or gray T-shirt and blue jeans.
They say if you saw anyone fitting that description in that area, you should call the Tampa Police Department.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?