LAUDERDALE LAKES, FLA. (WSVN) - Authorities have arrested a man days after, they said, he sexually assaulted a schoolgirl and attempted to abduct another one in Lauderdale Lakes.
Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives are concerned that they have not found all of suspect Kevin Smith’s victims. Officials took Smith into custody on Tuesday. He is being charged with sexual battery, sexual assault with a weapon and kidnapping.
Officials said the first victim, who is between 12 and 18 years old, was walking to school in the area of Northwest 31st Avenue and 41st Street, Feb. 24, when Smith approached her in a red Mitsubishi Montero.
“He grabbed her at knifepoint, dragged her into his vehicle, where he sexually assaulted her,” said BSO spokesperson Keyla Concepcion. “After the sexual assault, he told her she could leave the vehicle, which she did, and told her not to look back.”
Three days later, deputies said, Smith tried to abduct a second girl who was also walking to school, just before 8 a.m. However, this victim fought her attacker.
“This young girl had a cellphone in her hand, which she used to strike him in the face,” said Concepcion. “That’s the only reason that she managed to get away from him.”
She ran and called police. The next morning, officials managed to catch Smith in the red SUV in the same area where the assaults happened. That’s when they made the arrest.
Speaking in bond court on Wednesday, a prosecutor said the second victim provided investigators with a description of the suspect and his vehicle. “She then identified Mr. Smith as the assailant in a double-blind photo array,” he said.
Detectives apprehended Smith after spotting a vehicle matching the description given by the victim near the location where both attacks took place.
The incidents took place near Boyd H. Anderson High School, but officials have not specified whether or not the victims are students there.
This is Smith’s ninth arrest since 2000, but to those who knew him as their barber, he was friendly to those he encountered. “He used to cut my hair. I was in shock,” said Andre Prophett.
“Every time I walked past, I see him and his friends talking, cutting hair, so I was very shocked to hear that,” said a woman who lives in the area.
Students reacted to the news, Thursday, as they walked to school in Lauderdale Lakes. “Now, it’s like taking a fun thing away from the children because somebody wanted to do what they wanted to do,” said student Katherine Remy. “It wasn’t right.”
“After school, people walk home, and they wouldn’t feel safe to be able to walk around their neighborhood without no worries,” said student Redarius Metayer. “Anything could happen to anybody’s daughter or even son. You never know what this man was capable of. I feel that it was real messed up that he did that, and now he’s gonna be in jail for a long time, and I hope he does.”
Area resident Kenicha Watson said she is relieved Smith is behind bars. “I was feeling kind of scared about it, and I was thinking of the safety of my children,” she said.
“It could have been my daughter, you know what I’m saying?” said one man as he put his hand on his little girl’s shoulder.
A boy also disapproved of the suspect’s actions. “I would say this is not right. He should come back from where he came from and stop doing what you’re doing,” he said.
“My first thought was, ‘Is she OK?’ My heart went out for her. I know she must have been traumatized,” said Remy. “Probably didn’t want to leave the house, and I know her parents were probably worried sick, like, ‘How did this happen to my daughter?’ One of my really close friends has gone through this, so it pained my heart to know somebody at Boyd Anderson went through the same thing.”
As Smith sits in jail, those who knew him are realizing they may not have known him at all. “I can’t believe it,” said Prophett.
Smith is currently being held at the Broward County Jail on a $300,000 bond.
Detectives are urging other possible victims to come forward.
“I feel like if they do go through anything like what she went through with that same man, they should come out and get their justice,” said Remy. “Maybe it’ll make them feel better, get some closure. It’s always good to get closure if you’ve been through a traumatic event like that.”
If you have any information that could help investigators, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
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