SAN DIEGO — A man was arrested Friday in connection to a suspected groping incident involving a child in Santee, authorities said.

According to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the incident occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday near Big Rock Park in the 8100 block of Arlette Street when a 12-year-old student from Chet F. Harritt School was walking towards the park.

Authorities say a man allegedly approached the child and groped her chest. The girl’s friend was able to intervene and push away the suspect, who then took off on an electric black and gray scooter going eastbound towards Mesa Road, authorities said.

Just before 6:30 p.m. on Friday, an employee at the Santee Teen Center, which is located at Big Rock Park where the incident took place, called the sheriff’s department to report seeing a man who matched the description of the suspect and his scooter, the sheriff’s office explained.

Following the call deputies with the Santee Sheriff’s Station caught up to the suspect near the intersection of Prospect Avenue and Ellsworth Circle. Authorities say the man, now identified as 29-year-old Jose Lawrence Ruvalcaba, matched the description of a suspect who was captured in surveillance video following the groping incident.

Ruvalcaba was booked into San Diego Central Jail on charges of one felony count of lewd and lascivious act on a child under 14-years-old with force. He’s being held on $250,000 bail.

Authorities offered these tips for parents who they say should discuss how to remain safe in and out of school with their children.

  • Use the buddy system and avoid walking alone.
  • Parents should plan, map out and practice safe routes with children before they head out on their own.
  • Teach your children not to talk to strangers. 
  • Remind children to stay off cell phones. They should be able to hear their surroundings when walking to school or a bus stop.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel you are being followed or something is not right, feels uncomfortable, notice strange behavior, ask for help immediately.
  • If a stranger grabs you, drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite or scream. Make a scene and do whatever it takes to get the attention of others who can help you.
  • Go to a trusted adult, a teacher, coach, parent, older sibling or law enforcement for help and report the incident immediately.

It’s the policy of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department not to release identifying information about minor victims.