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Arrest made in string of attempted sexual assaults and break-ins in Echo Park and East Hollywood

A man suspected of carrying out home robberies and sexual assault throughout Los Angeles was arrested and charged Thursday, after local lawmakers announced a $35,000 award for his capture.

The suspect was identified as Russell Harris, 34. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged him with with seven felony counts: one of assault to commit rape during a burglary and six other burglary-related crimes.

If convicted of all the charges, Harris faces up to life in prison.

Authorities contend that Harris, a resident of Santa Clarita, went on a violent rampage across East Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Hollywood, and sexually assaulted at least one woman.

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Most of the crimes took place Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, police said.

Surveillance video shows the suspect being let into complexes by residents and through unlocked gates. 

In East Hollywood, police alleged, he entered an apartment and hid behind the front door, waiting for a woman who lived in the unit to return from the building’s laundry room. When she entered five minutes later, police said, the suspect attacked her. He then fled the scene.

About 90 minutes later, the same man entered an unlocked apartment in Echo Park. The woman who lived in the unit heard her dogs barking aggressively, authorities said, and found the suspect in her living room when she went to investigate.

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The suspect then pinned the woman to her sofa, according to police. The dogs tried to bite him, and she pushed the intruder out of the apartment.

The man identified as Harris was wearing an olive green shirt with a picture of the Virgin Mary, bluejeans and white shoes, police said. He has been known to carry a knife. 

Harris’ capture came one day after officials offered a $35,000 reward to find leads to catch him.

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis introduced motions to unlock funds for the reward Tuesday.

“I want to send a strong message to the community that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” O’Farrell said at a news conference Tuesday.

Harris was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, but it was postponed. Prosecutors said they would ask a judge to set his bail at $2.3 million.

An attorney for Harris could not be reached for comment.

Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.

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sarah.parvini@latimes.com

For more local and breaking news follow me on Twitter: @sarahparvini

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UPDATES:

8:05 p.m.: This article was updated with identity of the suspected assailant and details on the charges filed against  him.

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This article was originally published at 7:40 a.m.


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