BRADENTON, Fla. - The search is over for a man suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl in Bradenton.
On Wednesday, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of Dominick Jerome Hawkins, 36.
Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip, a detective tracked Hawkins down near the Resurrection House located on Kumquat Court in Sarasota and took him into custody.
Sheriff W. Brad Steube said Hawkins "made several admissions to us." Steube said he admitted that he was the man seen on surveillance footage inside a convenience store buying a little girl candy. Steube said he also admitted he was the one seen on surveillance footage trying to board a county bus. Then, upon further questioning, Steube said Hawkins stopped talking and requested an attorney.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said around 1:00 p.m. on Monday the girl was playing with another child at the Wayside Glen mobile home park when Hawkins approached. Authorities say Hawkins lured the girl to a store and then to a vacant mobile home near the Aloha Estates Mobile Home Park where she was choked and sexually battered.
The 5-year-old was able to escape, run home and tell a family member about the attack.
"She told us that she felt really scared and that she would never want to talk to strangers anymore," her 10-year-old cousin told ABC Action News.
Stuebe said Hawkins is now charged with kidnapping and capital sexual battery. Earlier this year, the sheriff's office said he used to live in the Wayside Glen mobile home park where his victim and her family currently reside.
"It's very scary to think that he was so close to us this whole time," said neighbor Misty Bell.
Detectives obtained security video from inside the India Bazaar convenience store. It showed Hawkins and the child together.
"He just came and bought the candy and he just left," said Mukesh Trivedi.
Trivedi was behind the counter. He said he recognized the child and the man, but didn't think there wasn't anything wrong because he thought they were neighbors.
"I feel so bad, especially for the girl, 5-years-old, not supposed to happen like that."
In addition, investigators obtained video of Hawkins trying to board a Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) bus as he attempted to flee the area.
The 5-year-old girl was treated and is back home with her family.
Stuebe said Hawkins has an extensive arrest record in California, Colorado, North Carolina and Manatee County.
Just last month, ABC Action News reported on Hawkins after his 4-year-old twins were found wandering a street by themselves.
He will be booked at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office and then transported to Manatee County. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Thursday.
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