UPDATE: Homeless man suspected of attacking child in gas station bathroom
OKLAHOMA CITY — An 8-year-old girl was attacked and strangled inside a convenience store in the metro.
Oklahoma City police say the suspect tried to strangle the little girl inside a gas station bathroom near I-40 and Meridian.
Driving through Oklahoma City, a family stopped at a Circle K for gas.
An 8-year-old girl goes inside to use the restroom, when a mostly naked man suddenly locks the door behind her.
“This male was not related to her and did not know her, but he was in the bathroom when she walked in. He got between her and the door and wrapped a brown coat around her neck and began choking her,” said Oklahoma City police MSgt. Gary Knight.
The victim’s family got a key and unlocked the door. The suspect, 40-year-old Christopher Gard, came out armed with a BB gun.
Gard tried to flee the scene before being caught by witnesses and held down until police arrived.
“I mean no one could anticipate that when you go to the restroom. It’s pretty scary,” said Amber Goolsby.
Amber doesn’t know the victim or the suspect, but does have a girl close to the same age as the victim.
She says the crime makes her think twice about letting her daughter use public restrooms alone.
“I have a 10-year-old girl and a boy I won’t let them go to the bathroom by themselves anymore. It’s very scary,” said Goolsby.
Some witnesses say Gard stayed in a small homeless camp set up right behind the store.
Police say during the attack the 40-year-old man had on nothing more than a pair of women’s panties.
“He was described by officers on scene as wearing women’s underwear. That was all he had on. Obviously it was a very frightening thing for the little girl,” said Knight.
After being taken into custody, officers put Gard in a squad car but a few minutes later found him “laying over in the back seat with the seatbelt and a leather belt wrapped around his neck, obviously trying to choke himself.”
Gard faces a number of charges, including assault, kidnapping and indecent exposure.
He remains behind bars at the Oklahoma County jail.