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Police today arrested a man suspected of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in a West Virginia Target store, according to press reports.


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Allen D. Coates arrested in Target assault

Allen Dwayne Coates, 37, was captured without incident in Louisville, Ky., CBS News reported, and was being held on charges of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping.

A grainy surveillance videotape broadcast on television since last weekend shows a man in a suburban Charleston, W.Va., Target store on Saturday stalking a young girl and then walking quickly down an aisle, leading her by the wrist.

According to the police, the man, claiming to be a security guard, pulled a knife on the girl and forced her to the store’s garden department, where he assaulted her, said the Associated Press.

South Charleston Police Chief David Dunlap, told reporters the arrest of Coates was the result of an anonymous tip.

According to the CBS report, Kentucky police are investigating whether Coates was involved in a similar incident Friday at a Wal-Mart in Ashland, Ky.

In that incident, according to police, a 9-year-old girl who had wandered away from her mother was approached by a man who identified himself as a security guard. The man patted the girl down, and she became suspicious and ran to her mother.

“They are being linked together,” Dunlap told the media. Dunlap credits broadcast of the surveillance video for leading to the arrest of Coates.

The incident has raised awareness of the dangers of letting pre-teens shop on their own in department stores.

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