MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) — Authorities are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who allegedly masturbated in front of some girls in Manhattan Beach on Friday and later tried to sexually assault one of them.

The 16-year-old girl and her two teenaged female friends were contacted by a man parked in a car in a Vons parking lot, who signaled for them to come toward the vehicle and asked if they needed a ride, the Manhattan Beach Police Department reported on Saturday.

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“When the teenaged females walked by, the male exposed his penis while masturbating,” police said. “The three females ignored the male and continued walking.”

The girls ran into the Vons market.

“Hearing the girls went into Vons — great, great move,” said Manhattan Beach resident Tiffany Wright. “But just letting somebody in Vons know what happened. They would have alerted the police. This probably could’ve been avoided.”

The teens thought he had left the parking lot so they started walking.

The suspect then approached the girls quickly and shoved one of them to the ground, police said. Once on the ground, he held the girl’s legs and touched her genital area on top of her clothing.

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One of the girls fought the suspect, punching him until he released the downed girl. The three girls ran home and called police, who were dispatched about 9:37 p.m. Friday to the area of Third Street and Valley Drive.

“She jumped in there to hit the suspect to the point where her friend was able to escape,” said Sgt. Tim Zins, Manhattan Beach Police.

“It’s horrifying,” said said Steven Balm, whose Manhattan Beach home is just steps away from where the girl was sexually assaulted. “Everyone here has lots of kids.”

The suspect was described as an Asian, Latino or Middle Eastern man with a dark complexion, between 20 and 30 years old. He was last seen wearing a red-and-black flannel shirt. His car was described as a dark-colored, four-door sedan with an Uber sticker with an older logo on the front passenger side of the windshield.

“It’s disgusting that any man would try to touch young children,” said Manhattan Beach resident Jim Wright.

Manhattan Beach police asked anyone with information regarding the suspect or his car to call them at (310) 802-5133.

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