ARLINGTON, Va. - Arlington County police have arrested a 19-year-old man who they say confessed to two recent attempted sexual assaults, and authorities are investigating him for a third.
Early Wednesday morning, police took Melvin Perez Bonilla into custody as he got off a Metrobus. Police say the suspect has been hiding in plain sight.
“He was using the parking lot directly across from police headquarters to travel to his residence, which ultimately he didn't make it to. He is sitting behind bars today,” said Officer Dustin Sternbeck of the Arlington County Police Department.
Police say Bonilla has only been in the United States for three years. He used a Spanish-speaking interpreter to confess.
In late July, authorities say he attacked a 25-year-old woman in Clarendon. Her description of the suspect led to a composite sketch.
Police say Bonilla also confessed to grabbing a 23-year-old from behind as she was walking down the street a little over a week ago.
Police looked at surveillance images from the Metrobus that Bonilla was on with his victim before the attack and tracked his movements, leading to his arrest.
“Now we’ve got this individual who has been dangerous -- who has put fear in a lot of our Arlington community -- and we’ve placed him behind bars,” said Sternbeck.
Women who walk in Arlington are enormously relieved that the suspect is behind bars.
“I quit walking once I heard about the man that was out here attacking, and I’m just glad that they caught him. And I just hope he gets punished for what he did,” said Arlington resident Lisa Deavers.
“It’s a really great area up here. So, we don't usually have that much crime, so it was good to hear that we can -- especially at night – walk. Knowing this person is behind bars, it’s a good feeling,” said Arlington resident Stacy Petersen.
Police say Bonilla is a suspect in the August attack of a 29-year-old woman on Highland Street. They are waiting for DNA analysis for that case and any others that could be connected in the region.
Bonilla is charged with two counts of attempted abduction with the intent to defile. He is being held without bond.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Sarah Rodriguez said in a statement:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer on Melvin Perez Bonilla, a citizen of El Salvador, following his arrest on criminal charges by the Arlington County Police Department.”