Police arrest suspect in Tempe sexual assault

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Vincent Thompson By Jennifer Thomas Vincent Thompson By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. – Tempe police have arrested a suspect in connection with a robbery and sexual assault near Baseline Road and Priest Drive Thursday afternoon.

At this time, Vincent Thompson, 18, faces charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and kidnapping. His bond was set at $50,000.

Police said a 30-year-old woman was taking a shortcut through a landscaped area with gravel and bushes on her way to Arizona Mills Mall where she works when a man approached from behind and grabbed her.

According to court documents, the suspect placed a pocketknife against her side to prevent her from leaving. The victim told police that the man took money from her wallet then touched her underneath her clothing.

"This was mid-afternoon, there was a lot of traffic, there were a lot of people so for the guy to do this, he's obviously very brazen," Lt. Mike Pooley said. "He had no fear of getting caught and he did this in broad daylight."

The suspect was described as a black male, 22 to 25 years old, 6 feet tall or taller with a medium build. He is clean-shaven and has shoulder-length braids that were held back from his face by a black hairband. The end of each braid had a white bead.

Police released a sketch of the suspect on Saturday and said they received numerous tips from the public as well as information identifying Thompson as the possible suspect.

Police checked surveillance cameras at the mall, which showed Thompson walking into the southeast entrance about 10 minutes after the assault, according to court records. He reportedly went into GameStop to sell some video games.

Police said Arizona Mills security guards recognized Thompson as a former employee of one of the mall sales kiosks.

The victim positively identified Thompson's photograph in a photo lineup as the person who assaulted her.

Tempe detectives located Thompson in Phoenix Monday night and took him into custody.

Thompson confirmed that he went to the GameStop and attempted to sell some video games but denied taking any money or touching the victim. Police said he refused to consent to a voluntary buccal swab for his DNA.

Police searched Thompson's home and located a knife matching what the victim described, according to court records. They also obtained a court order to obtain DNA from him.

Thompson later admitted to seeing the victim, whom he identified based on her clothing and the fact that she didn't speak any English. He said he thought she worked for T-Mobile and was going to inquire about phone plans. He said he "pulled his phones out of his pocket and said he accidentally hit the victim's butt with the phones."

Police said this continues to be an ongoing investigation regarding additional charges including sexual assault and other potential victims.

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