Off-duty deputy thwarts attempted child kidnapping at Florida hotel, police say

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TAMPA (WFLA) – A North Carolina man was arrested after allegedly trying to kidnap a 4-year-old boy at a Hampton Inn in Tampa Saturday.

The Tampa Police Dept. said 31-year-old Desmond Johnson’s alleged kidnap attempt was thwarted by an off-duty Palm Beach County deputy who was at the hotel.

Police said Johnson entered a hotel room at the Hampton Inn where three young children were sitting on a bed. Officers said the suspect attempted to grab a 4-year-old child from the bed, but the mother, who was in the bathroom, came to help after hearing the screams.

Officers said Johnson began to fight the mother for the child.

“I was in the room, fixing my kid’s plate, and he comes in saying, we’re going to Walmart, we’re going to Walmart. He just started grabbing my little boy, I had to f—-g fight him. I don’t know him,” the mother yelled in a now-viral video.

Jackebia Northcutt who shot the video was a fellow guest and heard the mom screaming in the hallway.

“It was actually pretty devastating and painful to hear, listening to the cries and screams. At first, I thought it was a child playing, but as it kept going on, that’s when I decided to go out in the hallway and that’s when I had seen the mother,” Northcutt said.

The suspect eventually pulled the child into the hall as the mother was holding onto him. Fortunately, an off-duty Palm Beach County deputy who was on vacation was nearby, heard what was going on, and immediately intervened and held the suspect until police arrived.

“From Tampa Police Department to Deputy Reece, we appreciate that you were here and that you stepped in and saved this kid’s life,” Tampa police spokesperson Eddy Durkin said.

In a statement, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said: “The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office learned today that one of our (deputies), D/S Corey Reece, while off duty, was instrumental in saving a young child from being kidnapped.  We are very PROUD of his quick actions and attention to what could have been a very volatile situation.”

Neither the children nor the mother were injured in the attempted kidnapping.

Johnson was arrested and is charged with two counts of burglary with battery and one count of attempted kidnapping.

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