DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. – A man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl at a hotel told detectives he thought it was "OK" to follow her, even though the two had never spoken, because he exchanged glances with her by the pool, according to Daytona Beach Shores police.
Police were called to the El Caribe Resort on South Atlantic Avenue on Sunday afternoon after hotel staff members said a guest told them her daughter was raped.
"We just had a guest tell us that their daughter was um, she believed that she was raped," the hotel manager said in a 911 call obtained by News 6.
The girl told police that a man on the elevator with her "came on to her" and groped her. When she got off the elevator she ran to her hotel room. Soon after, the victim said she heard footsteps in the hallway and thinking it was her parents, opened the door. The man pushed his way into the room, removed her clothes and raped her, according to the report.
Two surveillance videos released by Daytona Beach Beach Shores police show the suspect following the victim from the pool deck into the resort building and then into the elevator. Outside, the man followed her about 10 to 15 feet behind and the two never speak, according to the video.
Police said they were able to identify the suspect as Nelson Hernandez-Garcia, 23, of El Salvador, because after the alleged assault he put his number in the victim's phone and called or texted himself. Police said he called the victim three times and texted her in the hours after the incident. She responded with a text telling him to leave her alone and that she was 14 years old, according to the report.
Using the victim's cellphone and a translation app, a detective asked Hernandez-Garcia to meet at the resort pool. The detective met the suspect and waited for a Spanish-speaking officer to arrive before completing the interview, because the suspect doesn't speak English.
Hernandez-Garcia told detectives that he saw the girl at the pool and the two "exchanged eye contact and smiles," adding that although they never spoke he thought they liked each other and that "it was OK to follow her when she left," according to the report.
Detectives said in the report that when they asked Hernandez-Garcia if he knew the victim was 14 years old, he said no, until detectives showed him the text message from the girl stating her age. The suspect also identified himself in the surveillance video showing him following the victim, according to the report.
The suspect told detectives he didn't follow the victim for sex, but "just wanted to get to know her."
Hernandez-Garcia is charged with sexual battery on a minor. Volusia County Jail records show he is held without bail.