A 19-year-old Westminster mall employee has been arrested on suspicion he committed a series of sexual assaults in Huntington Beach, police said Thursday.
Mathew Andrew Linville was taken into custody at his home late Wednesday afternoon, according to Huntington Beach Police Department.
He is suspected in three sexual batteries in recent weeks in which a man approached women in Huntington Beach and groped their breasts and buttocks before running away, police said.
He was being held on $100,000 bail at Huntington Beach jail on a suspicion of assault with intent to commit rape and sexual battery, police said.
The three assaults occurred on Aug. 28 and Sept. 13 in the area of Bella Terra shipping mall, where police said Linville worked.
Plainclothes officers were on the case in the area of the mall and saw a man who matched the description of the attacker.
They saw the man go into a store in the mall and contacted the manager, who confirmed the man — Linville — worked at the business, police said.
“Investigators conducted follow up investigation and were able to connect Linville to the attacks,” a news release from Huntington Beach police stated.
Evidence found at Linville’s home and statements connected Linville to the attacks, police said. Linville was also connected with a similar attack in Westminster, police added.
Huntington Beach police Lt. Mitchell O’Brien said the department was not releasing the name of the store where Linville worked in part because employees may be potential witnesses to the alleged crimes.
Earlier, the attacker had been described by police as Hispanic, in his mid-20s, with short, dark hair. He was said to be 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall and to weigh 140 pounds.
One assault on a jogger took place near the mall on Aug. 28; two others occurred about an hour apart on Sept. 13 inside the lingerie department at the Burlington Coat Factory and near the Bella Terra mall’s parking structure, police had said earlier this week.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they were a victim is asked to call the Huntington Beach Police Information Hotline at 714-375-5066.