When four Florida high school students thought they’d have some fun and get some money out of it, they targeted a man who was vacationing with his family in Orlando. Because the man seemed like an easy target – tourists usually are – they approached him with a pistol and carjacked his car. They pistol-whipped the man, tied him up and threw him into the backseat of his car. They then robbed him of his wallet. Little did these four suspects all aged from 15-19 know but the man they had kidnapped was a federal agent and bent on getting revenge.
Armando Alaniz works as a federal Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agent. He was vacationing with his beloved family in Orlando in the International Drive tourist corridor when the four punks came up to him with a gun.
He was parking his car at night and they targeted him because he looked rich and vulnerable. They had no idea that beneath his kindly demeanor, Alaniz was a tough federal agent who would stop at nothing to administer justice.
After tying him up and kidnapping him, the four suspects drove Alaniz around in the stolen car. Eventually, the federal agent’s wife contacted the vehicle with OnStar.
As soon as they felt threatened, the four suspects – 19-year-old Gregory McDonald, 18-year-old Dante Askins and two other teenagers ages 15 and 16 – abandoned the agent’s SUV at a known crack house and fled.
“The OnStar representative placed a call to the vehicle and heard someone screaming for help,” Sheriff Jerry Demings said.
Because Askins is a suspected gang member, the police went hard after him and got him in custody less than 24 hours after the kidnapping. Askins was found driving a stolen car within one mile of the scene of the abduction. This carjacking and kidnapping was Askins’s sixth arrest – but he’ll probably be going away for a while after kidnapping a federal Customers Border agent.
Terrified of the law, the 15-year-old suspect turned himself in and the 16-year-old was arrested hours later. McDonald was arrested less than 48 hours after the kidnapping.
“These high school students were playing a dangerous game, and they got caught playing a dangerous game,” Demings said Friday afternoon. “If you are coming to our community with criminal intent, we want you to think twice about it.”
All four high school students have been charged with armed kidnapping, carjacking and aggravated assault with a firearm.
The two younger teens are now held at the Juvenile Detention Center in Orlando. Askins is still rotting in jail without bail and it is unclear where the police are holding McDonald.
Demings has sent out his best detectives to investigate the teens’ involvement in local gangs. Because the victim in this case was a federal agent, Orlando is working hard to stop this from happening again. Demings has increased patrol around the International Drive tourist district, which is supposed to be family friendly.
When the four suspects abandoned the vehicle at the crack house with federal agent Alaniz inside, the agent used his training to slip free. Because of the brutal assault he received, he required four stitches to close up the laceration in his scalp. The teen that pistol-whipped him must not have liked authority.
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