MACCLENNY, Fla. – A 33-year-old Jacksonville man was arrested in Baker County after deputies say he dragged a 27-year-old clerk from the front of Kangaroo Store in Macclenny last Friday and was trying to sexually assault her when someone heard her screaming and came to help.
The victim told deputies she was standing in front of the store smoking a cigarette while working an overnight shift when the man grabbed her, took her around the side of the store and tried to rape her.
"If you're working those late hours, you don't want to step outside. The fact that you have a glass enclosure inside the store, you should never even step outside of that enclosure if you're the only one there," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.
According to the arrest report, a husband and wife pulled up at the Kangaroo about 4 a.m. and heard a woman screaming from around the building. While the wife called 911, the husband walked around the side and saw a man get up and run away.
Deputies said the victim had scratches on the her arms and face.
Later that morning Baker County deputies picked up Simmie Kendry III, who looked like a man seen in store surveillance video recorded just before the attack. Deputies said he was still wearing the same shirt and had abrasions on his arms.
After Kendry was positively identified by the victim, he was arrested and charged with battery, kidnapping, attempted sexual battery, sexual assault, indecent exposure and lewd and lascivious behavior.
"We do have some sexual batteries that happen, but as far as a stranger coming up and trying to drag someone away and sexually batter them, those are very rare out here," said Tracie Benton of the Baker County Sheriff's Office.
Law enforcement officials warn that no matter where you are, danger could always be present.
"Don't go anywhere alone, especially at nighttime," Benton said. "If somebody gives you a weird feeling, obviously do your best to get away from them, call the Sheriff's Office. We'll come respond and make sure this person that's basically creeping you out is OK or we'll make him leave."
Smith also said that the time of day can play a significant factor when it comes to running into the type of person who may have illegal motivations.
Smith said that by law, if a store is open 24 hours it must have surveillance video but said that even with that video recording, a clerk should stay inside the store, especially when the sun goes down.
"Between dusk and dawn the crime rate really increases at these convenience stores, and that's when most robberies, sexual assaults and that type of thing occur," Smith said.
News4Jax checked Kendry's criminal history and found he has prior arrests for battery, aggravated assault, fighting and disorderly intoxication.