Girl grabbed at restaurant escapes

When her great-grandfather yelled, she slid out of the man’s arms.
The suspect was recently released from jail.

By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published May 4, 2005

TAMPA – In an area already on edge over child abductions and murders, a
man out of jail barely 24 hours was accused Tuesday of walking into a
fast-food restaurant, picking up a 6-year-old girl, and trying to walk
out.

Tuesday night deputies arrested 22-year-old Jose Antonio Hubbard of 3226
Saddlebrook Ave., Tampa, charging him with kidnapping.

The incident occurred at Chick-fil-A, at 15801 N Dale Mabry Highway, near
the Northdale Shopping Center.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said
shortly after 5 p.m. the girl was there with her great-grandparents to
celebrate her brother’s birthday. A man walked in, spoke to one of the
customers, then picked up the child and started backing out the door. The
girl’s great-grandfather noticed and yelled at the man, Carter said.

“He never made it out of the restaurant,” said Carter. “He was still
inside, and when the grandfather yelled at him, the girl was able to
squirm around and get out of his arms.”

Carter said the 6-year-old girl held her hands straight up in the air and
“slid” away from Hubbard.

“They were all right there together,” said Carter.

Sheriff’s deputies thought the description of the man matched someone
they’d encountered Monday. They knew he lived nearby, and spotted him
less than a mile away, on North Lakeview Drive. He was picked up and
taken into custody.

Hubbard has a history of arrest, most recently on March 14 on charges of
domestic violence and criminal mischief. He spent a month and a half in
jail, and got out Monday according to jail records.

Three days before that arrest, deputies took Hubbard to jail on
trespassing charges.

Jail records also show Hubbard has two prior arrests on domestic violence
charges, and some charges involving alcohol.

Tuesday’s incident comes as the Tampa Bay area is still reeling this year
from three child abductions and killings: Sarah Lunde, 13, of Ruskin;
Jessica Lunsford, 9, of Homosassa; and Carlie Brucia, 11, of Sarasota.

In addition, there has been a spate of similar close calls reported to
local police. On April 6, a 14-year-old girl told Tampa police two men in
a car tried to abduct her in an east Tampa neighborhood. One man jumped
out and grabbed the girl’s book bag before she began screaming and ran
away.

And on March 17, a man pushed through a gate at Mendenhall Elementary
School and tried to grab a fourth-grader by her hair and collar, police
said. A fifth-grader walking with the 10-year-old girl grabbed her by the
arm, and the man ran away.

On March 14, a 10-year-old girl escaped after a man with a knife grabbed
her and held her hostage in a patch of bushes near her home just north of
Ybor City. A short time later, police arrested 43-year-old Terrance Lee
Brown in that case. He remains at the Orient Road Jail without bail,
charged with kidnapping to commit a felony on a child, false imprisonment
of a child and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

[Last modified May 4, 2005, 00:56:08]

© 2005 € All Rights Reserved € St. Petersburg Times

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