MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade police have announced the arrest of a man in connection with the abduction, assault and shooting of a 12-year-old boy over the weekend.
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. He was temporarily blinded after a bullet struck him in the jaw and went out through the other side of his head, authorities said Monday.
“As the father of a 12-year-old myself, this is extremely disturbing and it hits you at the soul,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez.
Tuesday night a new twist in the investigation against Santiesteban.
About an hour after the child was shot and allegedly raped, Santiesteban showed up in Miami Beach, where he called officers to report he had been jumped by three men and stabbed in the hand.
WATCH REPLAY BELOW: AUTHORITIES ANNOUNCE ARREST
The victim still in a lot of pain as he continues to recover at Jackson Memorial Hospital, with authorities saying he likely has a long recovery ahead.
The boy’s life was likely saved by a good Samaritan, who police called a hero, 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 around 3 a.m. Saturday when he was abducted by Santiesteban, who grabbed him and 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.
The victim told investigators he tried to get out of the car, but the attacker had the child locks engaged.
According to Santiesteban’s arrest report, he pulled his car onto a swale at Northwest 45th Street and 31st Avenue, forced the victim into the backseat and raped him. Police said a brief struggle ensued and Santiesteban shot the boy.
The victim told police he 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.
“We definitely have DNA evidence that is compelling, as well as physical evidence that we know the subject was in the area due to good old fashioned police work,” said Miami-Dade Police Maj. Brian Rafky.
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.”
Police said Santiesteban denied the accusations against him. However, during a news conference Tuesday, police confirmed that forensic evidence, including DNA, led to the arrest. They said a gun was also recovered inside Santiesteban’s car when he was taken into custody.
Ahead of his 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.”
Police said the investigation remains open as they work to determine whether Santiesteban has targeted any other victims in the past.