- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

SOUTH CHARLESTON (AP) — A man suspected of posing as a security guard to assault an 11-year-old girl at a Target store in West Virginia was arrested yesterday as he left a lawyer’s office in Louisville, Ky., police said.

Allen Dwayne Coates, 37, of Irvington, Ky., was taken into custody without incident at 12:45 p.m., while leaving the office of lawyer Fred Radolovich, said FBI spokesman David Beyer.

“It’s a burden lifted. I’m sure the community will be elated that this predator is no longer on the streets,” South Charleston Police Chief David Dunlap said at a news conference.

He said an anonymous tip his department received from someone in Kentucky on Tuesday night led to Mr. Coates’ arrest. No other suspects were being sought.

“They saw it, they saw the individual on the news,” he said. “The information we obtained from the tipster … was information that nobody else could have.”

Mr. Coates was being held in Louisville on charges of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping.

The girl was assaulted Saturday night after she and her mother separated to do individual shopping.

According to police, the suspect told the girl he saw her steal something, pulled a knife and forced her first to the garden department where he assaulted her. When too many shoppers walked into that section, he led her into the men’s wear section, where he assaulted her again.

More than 100 tips came in to police after they released a grainy store surveillance tape that showed a man with a belly and a ball cap stalking a young girl and later leading her quickly down an aisle in another department.

Investigators had even asked NASA to enhance the images in hopes of identifying the suspect.

“If it were not for the broadcast, this case may have never been solved,” Chief Dunlap said.

Kentucky police are continuing to investigate whether Mr. Coates was involved in a similar incident Friday at a Wal-Mart in Ashland, Ky., said Capt. Don Petrella of the Ashland police.

In that incident, 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.

Both stores are near Interstate 64, which also runs through Louisville. Ashland is about 200 miles east of Louisville and about 62 miles west of South Charleston.

“They are being linked together. Ashland is working on that part of the case,” Chief Dunlap said.

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