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Home invasion, rape in Garden District prompts security fears

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BATON ROUGE - An unusual police presence was seen in the Garden District Friday as officers investigate an overnight home invasion and rape amid a series of sexual assaults in the area.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit learned through sources that as many as three victims say they have been sexually assaulted in the last few weeks in the Garden District area. The most recent attack happened Thursday around 9:45 p.m. on Camellia Avenue and involved a 31-year-old female.  The attacker broke into the woman's home, raped her and stole money and personal items, police said in a news release issued just after WBRZ.com broke the story.  

The suspect, who had no distinguishing characteristics, then fled on foot before officers arrived at the scene.

Overnight, a helicopter circled the scene as police on the ground worked to gather information. Police confirmed detectives were able to collect strong evidence but said specifics were not going to be released. The Investigative Unit has learned the State Police Crime lab was processing that evidence.

Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto was in the Garden District working the story Friday, and learned neighbors are concerned. Friday night, there's a large event in the Mid City area. Police are said to be planning a large show-of-force while the investigation unfolds.

Neighbors in the Garden District were gripped with fear.

"That's very very disturbing," John Church said. "It's a safe neighborhood. We are in a city. Those things are inevitable and tragic, it's very disturbing."

A woman walking her son through the neighborhood said she's taken matters into her own hands.

"Last summer, I got a German Shepard," Meagan Kraeuter said. "She's actually a great family dog. But, she does a good job at guarding the house. Anytime there's a strange noise, she's the first person out the door and scopes out the situation."

Sources told WBRZ, Baton Rouge Police do not believe the sexual assaults are connected.

Watch WBRZ News 2 beginning at 4 p.m. for the latest.

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