PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — Police have a suspect in custody who they believe sexually assaulted a Santa Monica College student Saturday afternoon while she was visiting the campus library.
Santa Monica police officers on Tuesday identified the suspect as Chase Reynolds, an SMC student. SMPD Lt. Dan Salerno said the suspect was being uncooperative and would only tell police he is a resident of Malibu.
Using fingerprints and an SMC identification card, officers were able to determine the suspect’s identity. Reynolds was booked on suspicion of assault to commit rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment and robbery. Officers were seeking a $2 million bail, believing Reynolds may be a flight risk since he was uncooperative during the booking process.
Reynolds was taken into custody on Tuesday shortly after the SMPD and Santa Monica College Police Department released a composite sketch of the suspect, who allegedly assaulted the victim, a 19-year-old student, as she exited the restroom in the SMC library around 4:30 p.m., pinning her against the wall. He fled when startled by an announcement over the intercom police officials said.
The suspect was positively identified by the victim, police added.
The incident is believed to be the first major reported sex crime on the SMC campus in more than a decade.
There were several sexual battery incidents on campus last year when several women said they were touched in the rear as they walked up a flight of stairs.
“A couple of the senior sergeants said that in the last 15 years, there hasn’t been anything this serious,” Sgt. Ray Bottenfield of the Santa Monica College Police Department said.
Police advise that students who encounter a similarly dangerous situation make noise, yell or whistle to draw attention to themselves. In terms of deciding to fight back, the victim will have to judge the situation accordingly, depending on their physical ability. If unable to fight, the victim should act as dead weight, creating as many challenges as possible for the attacker.
“Make them carry you,” Bottenfield said. “They don’t want to make the effort if it’s going to be a huge additional thing to deal with someone in that matter.”
He suggests that students travel in pairs and utilize the student escorts that are available on campus. Parking enforcement officers are also available for assistance.
Bottenfield also said that women should be careful when approaching individuals in strange vehicles, especially those with dark tinted windows, noting an incident in Hermosa Beach on Monday when three men in a van tried to kidnap a woman after asking her for directions.
The department operates a set of yellow emergency call boxes on campus that directly connect to a dispatch officer.
“Report as soon as possible so that if there is evidence, it can be recovered as soon possible,” Bottenfield said.
Anyone with information on the assault is urged to contact the SMPD at (310) 458-8427.