MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade police have confirmed that a man is in custody in connection with the abduction, sexual assault and shooting of a 12-year-old boy, according to News 6 partner WPLG-TV.
He was identified Tuesday as 43-year-old Aliex Santiesteban.
Santiesteban faces charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon/serious injury, kidnapping a child under 13 and attempted murder.
The boy was sexually assaulted and shot over the weekend, officials said. The boy was temporarily blinded when a bullet struck him in the jaw and went out through the other side of his head, authorities said Monday.
He’s still in a lot of pain as he continues to recover at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The boy’s life was likely saved by a good Samaritan, and doctors say that if the bullet went a millimeter in either direction, he’d be dead.
“The young boy says he couldn’t see at the time. He had lost his sight and he was using his touch trying to find his way around to seek help,” said Det. Alvaro Zabaleta of the Miami-Dade Police Department.
A man who says he only goes by Johnny says he found the young boy wandering alone and crying early Saturday morning, blocks away from the Foodland Market on Northwest 37th Avenue and 47th Street in Miami-Dade County. Johnny can be seen on video escorting the boy to the market to get help.
“He was conscious, he fell on the sidewalk and said he had been shot. That was all I know,” Johnny said. “He was screaming, ‘Help someone, help me, please.’ So I [brought] him to the store where they could call the police.”
Police said Santiesteban was driving a black four-door sedan.
According to investigators, the child was walking around the Brownsville neighborhood of Northwest Miami-Dade County at about 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Saturday when he was abducted by Santiesteban, who forced him into the car.
Police say the boy snuck out of his home Friday night to walk to a friend’s place, which is more than two miles away. He even placed pillows atop his bed to trick his parents into thinking he was still there.
The brutal attack happened during his long walk back home.
UPDATE: 12-year old boy who was abducted, raped & shot- snuck out of his home over the weekend to go over a friend’s house... even using pillows atop his bed to trick his parents. The brutal attack happened during his walk back home in the overnight hours. @WPLGLocal10— Terrell Forney (@TerrellWPLG) March 29, 2021
The victim told investigators he was pulled into the attacker’s car. He tried to get out but the attacker had the child locks engaged, he told police.
The car pulled onto a swale at Northwest 45th Street and 31st Avenue where investigators believe the sexual assault happened. At some point, the child heard a loud bang and was pushed out of the car. He was shot in the face, temporarily blinded and used his touch to get around.
Surveillance video from Foodland Market shows witnesses coming to the boy’s aid and offering him water.
Within minutes, police and paramedics arrived, with one officer helping the child onto a gurney before taking him to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
The crime has left neighbors in shock.
“When they told me it was a little boy, that’s awful,” said Celine Mejia. “That’s sick. So whoever did it needs to turn themselves in because that’s not right. He’s a child.”
Ahead of Santiesteban’s arrest, police were appealing for anyone with surveillance video or Ring camera footage in the area to contact them.
“If this individual is so brazen to do this, God knows what else he’s willing to do,” Zabaleta said. “The longer this individual is out there, then the longer that our children in that area are not safe.”