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

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News