MONROE COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida man was charged with kidnapping/false imprisonment last week after forcing a 17-year old girl to drive him and another woman through a COVID-19 checkpoint, police said.
“I am relieved this suspect is currently sitting in jail and the young victim in this case was not seriously hurt,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a statement.
Authorities allege the incident started on the morning of May 21, when 37-year-old Alexander Michael Sardinas of Tavernier and a 43-year-old Islamorada woman attempted to enter the Florida Keys in a rideshare taxi without identification.
The Florida Keys have been closed to visitors since the coronavirus outbreak. The closure is enforced with a checkpoint.
Police said the two Florida Keys residents were turned away.
A short time later, a Florida Highway Patrolman said he spotted the two in an argument half a mile from the checkpoint and gave them a courtesy ride to nearby Florida City.
The two then allegedly went to a Publix shopping center parking lot a couple of miles away and approached the victim. Police said the victim had Monroe County plates and a Hurricane reentry sticker on her car.
Authorities said Sardinas told the girl to drive them to Tavernier and threatened to hurt her if she refused or if she touched her cell phone.
Police said the victim then drove to the checkpoint and showed her license with the Florida Keys address. Detectives said she did not say anything to the deputies there because she was scared.
The victim dropped Sardinas off at a gas station, the female at a pharmacy, and then called a family member who called the police, authorities said.
Police said the couple was found at different locations, and neither denied being with the victim. The victim also identified Sardinas in a photo lineup as the man who kidnapped and threatened her, the sheriff’s office said.
Police said Sardinas was taken to jail and additional charges may be pending.
It’s not clear whether the suspect has an attorney or has appeared in court. CNN has called out to the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office.