LADERA RANCH (CBSLA.com) — Investigators are today saying that an attack that happened in Ladera Ranch on Sunday night, in which a man with a knife assaulted two 12-year-old boys who were playing in a park, was not a sex crime, but an attempted robbery.
Two young boys were playing in Founder’s Park when the suspect attacked them, dragging one of the boys before ordering him at knife point to take off his pants, leading to the belief that the crime was sexual.
“I want to stress it’s not sex-related, and it’s not a kidnapping,” said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “We’re investigating a robbery, only a robbery. I want to put the community’s fears at ease.”
Amormino also added that 24 investigators have been assigned to the case by Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Several hundred people have been interviewed throughout the investigation, including witnesses who were present at the park on the night of the robbery.
Detectives found out about a similar robbery that had occurred on Friday, but originally went unreported.
Authorities also acquired surveillance video that may help lead to further developments in the investigation. The video shows a young male on a bike, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and riding away from the park.
The person on the video “remains a person of interest” according to Amormino. Investigators say they are working to enhance the video before releasing it to the public.
The boy who was being assaulted was able to save himself by throwing woodchips, found in the playground, in the suspect’s face. The suspect then masked his face with a bandanna, giving the boy time to run away and flag down help on the road a block away.
Investigators are also considering the possibility of an older boy bullying younger kids for money.
Authorities will cover the area again Tuesday night, handing out fliers to residents until 9 p.m. in an effort to seek more witnesses.