Assaults Suspect Arrested
Riverside, Ca- Riverside Police Department investigators have arrested a suspect in a series of violent random assaults against six women. On Friday, February 23, RPD issued a composite sketch of a man who had attacked five women in four separate random attacks -- two on January 31, and two on February 14. After the composite sketch appeared in news media, a sixth victim came forward with additional descriptive information.
On Monday, February 26, 2007, Riverside Police arrested Gerald Albert TAJA, 28, of Riverside, at his residence, in the general area of the attacks. During subsequent investigation, several of the other victims were able to identify Taja as their attacker. The Riverside County District Attorney is filing six counts of Assault With A Deadly Weapon causing great bodily injury.
On January 31, 2007, at approximately 10:30 p.m., in the 2500-block of Colgate Way, a male subject approached a lone female subject and attacked her with some type of metal bar. A short time later, the same male subject attacked a second female subject near the same location using a similar type weapon. The suspect beat the victims and then fled on foot in a westerly direction.
On February 14, 2007, at approximately 9 p.m., in the 2500-block of Gonzaga Lane, two female victims were attacked with a metal bar while in the carport area of an apartment complex. A short time later, in the 1400-block of Clemson Street, another female subject was attacked in the same manner using a similar weapon. The suspect fled on foot in a northerly direction.
This information – and a suspect description of an Hispanic male in his 20s, 5’9” tall and 190-200 pounds, with a shaved head and mustache – was publicized by the Riverside Police Department with a call for public assistance, on February 23.
The sixth victim reported she was attacked January 15, 2007, at about 7:30 p.m., in the 2900-block of Canyon Crest Drive, as she got out of her vehicle. She fell when she attempted to flee. The suspect punched her in the face, and broke her nose before screams alerted neighbors and scared off the attacker.
This victim’s description of the suspect and his vehicle, added to information already gathered in the investigation, led to Taja’s arrest. The suspect exactly matches the physical description.
With the exception of the January 15 attack, all the other victims were struck with some sort of metal weapon. Several victims suffered cuts, bruises or broken bones and some required hospitalization for their injuries. All of the victims were female, of many different ethnic backgrounds, ranging in age from 20 to 54 years of age.
The attacker said nothing to any of the victims. There is no known motive for the attacks; there was no attempt at robbery or sexual assault.
Anyone with additional information helpful to this investigation is urged to contact Riverside Police Detective Dave Smith at (951) 353-7103.