MIAMI — A man arrested by police early Tuesday is accused of abducting, sexually assaulting and shooting a 12-year-old boy who had snuck out of his home to walk to a friend’s house in South Florida.
A passerby saw the boy wandering along a street before 3 a.m. Saturday and alerted authorities. The boy later told police that he had heard a loud bang and was pushed out of a car. He had been shot in the jaw and was temporarily blinded.
“He had lost his sight and he was using his touch trying to find his way around to seek help,” Miami-Dade Det. Alvaro Zabaleta told news outlets.
Police said they arrested Aliex Santiesteban, 43, early Tuesday. He’s charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon/serious injury, kidnapping a child under 13 and attempted murder.
The boy is recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital, police said.
The good Samaritan, whom television stations did not identify by his full name, was recorded on surveillance video escorting the crying boy into a food mart to get help.
“He was screaming, ‘Help, someone, help me, please.’ So I (brought) him to the store where they could call the police,” the man told television stations.
Investigators said boy had placed pillows in his bed to trick his parents into thinking he was sleeping before leaving the house on Friday night. He said he walked to a friend’s house about 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) away.
He was on his way home when he was forced into a car, police said. The boy told investigators he tried to get out, but the car’s child locks were engaged.
An arrest report said Santiesteban pulled his car onto a roadside swale in the Brownsville neighbourhood near Miami and forced the child into the backseat, where he assaulted him. Police said a brief struggle ensued and Santiesteban shot the boy.
Santiesteban denied the accusations, police said. It was not clear whether he has an attorney.
Investigators had sought help from anyone in the area with surveillance video. Before the arrest, Zabaleta pleaded for more information.
“If this individual is so brazen to do this, God knows what else he’s willing to do,” Zabaleta said then. “The longer this individual is out there, then the longer that our children in that area are not safe.”
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