Parents and patrons of the Texarkana Public Library are in shock after a sexual assault in the facility’s bathroom Tuesday evening.
Texarkana Police said the suspect, 26 year-old Javier Perez, had been staying at a nearby homeless shelter and had only been there a little over a week. His last known address is Terrell, Texas. He’s charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child after police said a library employee caught him with an 11 year-old boy inside a locked bathroom stall at the library. Police say when Perez was confronted by the employee, he ran down the road to Randy Sams Outreach Shelter, where he was soon taken into custody.
Library officials said they’re horrified. Director Jennifer Strayhorn said, “This cannot happen again, we are devastated.” Strayhorn said the library will now request more security from city officials.
Patrons at the library are also in shock. Visitor Cheryl McFarland said, “Every time I come here it’s always nice and quiet. I enjoy my visit.” Hunter Helms added he’s never seen any issues. “It’s been a good place to go,” he said.
Some parents say the library needs to be moved away from the homeless shelter. Jessica Maranto said she brings her daughter to the library. “There’s always people lingering out here,” she said.
Shelter officials hope the community is not too quick to jump to conclusions. Randy Sams Outreach Shelter Director Jennifer Laurent said, “There’s an absolute fear that they’re going to get blamed or be labeled because of one man’s issues,” she said.
Laurent adds that shelter residents follow strict rules and the facility does not allow sex offenders. “We run names and birth dates through a nationwide database,” she said. Laurent said she’s handed over all of the shelter’s surveillance video to police.
Perez remains in jail. His bond is set at one hundred thousand dollars.