Parents and neighbors in a Queens community are on alert after a man approached a 7-year-old girl who was playing outside with a friend and forced her into an alley where he made her perform a sexual act.
Police believe he also groped another girl in the same South Ozone Park neighborhood the same day.
Law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York the 7-year-old girl had been playing ball with a friend at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, when the friend went to retrieve the ball from a neighbor's yard.
The girl told police that while she was waiting for her friend to come back, the man came up to her and asked her if she wanted to play a game.
He then forced her into the alley and told her to close her eyes and stick out her tongue before abusing her, law enforcement sources said.
The girl was taken to the hospital.
Earlier the same day, a 7-year-old girl was sitting on her stoop in South Ozone Park at about 2:45 p.m. when a man approached her and grabbed her buttocks. The girl's 12-year-old sister yelled at the man, prompting him to run away.
Police believe the same suspect is behind both attacks. New video (above) and a sketch (below) were released Thursday of the man police say is a suspect.
Police shut down a block at 115th Street and Sutter Avenue as they investigated the assault Wednesday.
Residents called the report of a 7-year-old girl being sexually assaulted "disturbing."
Shafeek Sohrab said he was "on the lookout for everything" and planned to buy a lock for his backyard gate to keep his 2-year-old nephew safe.
"They need to catch him," Sohrab said. "Everybody need to be on alert."
"I feel sorry for the parents who have to go through this, and the little child who has to live with this for the rest of her life," said Mala Narine.
-Marc Santia, Katherine Creag and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report