A man has been arrested in a series of face-slashing attacks in South Los Angeles, South Gate and Lynwood, Los Angeles police confirmed Wednesday.
The suspect was identified by police as 19-year-old Len Rey Briones during a news conference later Wednesday evening. Briones is believed to be homeless and is on probation for a prior arson conviction, LAPD officials said.
Authorities said one of the victims attacked was a 13-year-old slashed on April 1.
Briones allegedly slashed the victims' faces while riding past them on a bicycle. The "indiscriminate" attacks go back to March 20, Los Angeles Police Detective Steve Garcia said.
“He’s shooting for the jugular,” Garcia said earlier of the serial slasher. "He’s about an inch a way from cutting that jugular."
The "unsuspecting" victims range between 13 and 85 years old and have included men and women and at least one child, the detective said. He said law enforcement officials in all of the areas where the attacks occurred were actively searching for the man.
"The last thing we need is for this to happen one more time, let alone to a child," Garcia said Wednesday morning.
Later in the evening, he thanked vigilant residents and news outlets for helping police make an arrest.
"Everyone was touched by this," Garcia said. "I talked to gang members, I talked to parolees ... everyone was on board with this because this guy was victimizing innocent people."
The attacks appear to be random, but are all similar and have occurred mostly in the morning hours. The suspect allegedly comes up from behind the victims and slashes their faces with a sharp object. Garcia said one victim described the weapon as a folded box cutter.
“I don’t know, but it’s definitely sharp,” he said of the weapon.
One of the latest attacks occurred about 8:40 a.m. Monday near Florence Avenue and Avalon Boulevard. The victim was standing on the sidewalk near a bus stop when the suspect slashed the victim as he rode past him on a bike. The man was left with a "severe injury" to the face, police said in a news release.
Two other people, including a woman and a 13-year-old victim, were attacked that same day, police said.
The suspect could be seen reaching out to the woman while on his bike, and a passerby who witnessed the attack thought it was a robbery at first, Garcia said. The passerby followed the slasher and took photos of him before returning to the woman and realizing she had been slashed in the face, according to Garcia. The wound was described as being about 5 to 6 inches long.
Before that, police believe the same man attacked a person on March 27 in South Gate and on March 20 at the corner of 59th Street and Avalon Boulevard.
Two other similar attacks were reported in Lynwood, Garcia said.
The detective said Wednesday morning that eight people in total have been attacked, but he did not provide details about the additional two incidents. Investigators learned of the 13-year-old boy's April 1 slashing on Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of victims to nine.
The suspect was previously described by police as being between 18 and 30 years old with short hair, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds. He was seen wearing a dark-colored t-shirt and dark pants.
Garcia previously described the bicycle he was riding as a black Huffy Nighthawk with neon green brake lines.
Anyone with information can call 323-318-3610 or 323-846-6562.