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Seven-year-old girl beaten by man trying to steal bike

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A 7-year-old girl was beaten unconscious by a man with a lengthy criminal record who tried to steal her bicycle in broad daylight, the Anchorage Police Department said on Monday.

The girl, who was not named, was hospitalized in critical condition, said Marlene Lammers, a police spokeswoman said.

Her accused assailant, Byron Edward Syvinski, 32, was arrested almost immediately at the scene of the incident, which occurred on Sunday afternoon in midtown Anchorage, Lammers said. "He was right there by the little girl," she said.

He was being evaluated on Monday at a local hospital and faces charges of assault and theft, Lammers said.

Before attacking the girl, Syvinski accosted a 17-year-old boy in the same neighborhood and punched the boy's father, according to police reports. He then confronted the girl and hit her in the head so hard that she fell and lost consciousness, police said.

Syvinski lives in the neighborhood where the assault occurred.

Up to now, he has apparently not clashed with neighbors, Lammers said. "He's lived there about 10 years and has had no problems," she said.

State court records show that Syvinski has a long history of criminal charges and convictions, including theft, firearms violations, assault, robbery and domestic violence.

(Reporting by Yereth Rosen. Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan)