Authorities released a photo Thursday of a transient they said punched, choked and raped a woman in the emergency exit stairwell of a Metro Red Line station in East Hollywood.

The victim asked the man for directions about 6 p.m. on March 14 at the Vermont/Sunset Station in the 1500 block of North Vermont Avenue, and he lured her to the location where he attacked her, according to Metro and the Los Angeles Police Department.

“The incident occurred in the station’s emergency exit stairwell that is required to remain open for public safety,” Metro said in a statement. “The stairwell is patrolled regularly by security personnel.”

Metro and LAPD investigators reviewed video surveillance footage and released a photo and sketch of the suspect.

“Metro extends sincere condolences to the victim in this case,” Metro said. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault on the Metro system, and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure the suspect is arrested for this crime.”

The suspect, who police said frequents the Metro stations from Compton to Santa Monica, was described as a black man with brown eyes, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, between 165 and 180 pounds, with a shaved head, an earring on his right ear and a 2- to 3-inch scar on his left forearm. He wore all dark clothing.

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call Transit Watch at (888) 950-SAFE; Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS; or LAPD detectives at (323) 561-3328.

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