SAN DIEGO — Authorities were asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating a man suspected of groping a child in Santee, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) said.

The incident occurred Thursday around 4 p.m. near Big Rock Park in the 8100 block of Arlette Street, Lt. Anthony O’Boyle said in a news release Friday.

A 12-year-old student from Chett F. Harritt School was walking towards the park when a man approached the girl and inappropriately touched her chest, according to the sheriff’s department. 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.

The Santee Sheriff’s Station received the report from the victim’s mother and sent out an ASTREA helicopter to search for the suspect, per SDSO. He was not found.

The suspect, who has short hair and a mustache, is described as a 20-year-old Hispanic man, around 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing approximately 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and black pants, authorities said. 

Extra patrols will assigned around Chett F. Harritt School and Big Rock Park starting on Monday.

The identities of the minor victims will not be released, per SDSO’s policy.

The sheriff’s department advises parents to talk to their children about stranger danger such as using a buddy system when out, teaching them not to talk to strangers and fighting back to grab the attention of the public, among other safety tips.

Anyone who might have been in the area at the time of the incident and has information or surveillance video that could be helpful to this case is asked to call the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200.