FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – On the day that Broward County’s beaches reopened, a bold crime was spotted on Fort Lauderdale beach.
Several women who were out just minding their own business Tuesday fell victim to a serial attacker in broad daylight.
The suspect, identified as 22-year-old Drake Kelley of Oakland Park, has been charged with two counts of simple battery and one count of false imprisonment. He will soon be booked into the Broward County jail, police say, and he could face more charges after a fourth victim came forward.
A Local 10 news crew just happened to be in the area for a different story and spotted the crime.
“I see him walk around my car and he’s got his eyes fixed on some woman who had just walked by," Local 10 reporter Andrew Perez said. “It looked like she just might have been exercising.
“Out of nowhere, I’m looking at this man, and he just darts right for her, takes both of his hands and smacks her in her backside. Immediately, she starts yelling. She is cursing, she’s angry. She takes out her phone.”
Fort Lauderdale police were notified, and the Local 10 crew jotted down the man’s license plate as he sped away.
At least three women say they were assaulted on the beach Tuesday, with police saying it was all by the same man. One of the victims said the man tried to force her into his car after she was groped.
About 30 minutes after the initial attack, the man was spotted again.
“All of a sudden I see this guy’s car again and this time the cops are right behind him,” Perez said. “He tries to make a sharp left turn to throw them off, but there were officers coming from the other side as well.”
Local 10 News spoke with one of the victims over the phone.
She said she was out power walking mid-afternoon when the suspect used his car to block her path.
“I’m extremely shaken up,” she said. “He just grabbed me forcefully on my left cheek. Grabbed me forcefully, almost pulling me to the ground, and got right in my face, almost nose to nose, and started laughing, and he took off running back to his car.”
It didn’t take long for police to connect the dots, as detectives tied four separate crimes to Kelley.
Cell phone video captured a swarm of officers descending upon the suspect, who was led away by police in handcuffs.