[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 01/03/20]
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LEESBURG, Florida — A group of people chased a 27-year-old man across busy U.S. Highway 441 after a 10-year-old boy said the man grabbed him by the arm and tried to kidnap him.
Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Thursday, a Leesburg Police officer heard a large disturbance near the intersection of U.S. Highway 441 and Radio Road and saw several young men chasing another man across the highway to Tijuana Flats. The officer went to the restaurant and one of the individuals told the officer a man wearing a black tank top, later identified as Tyler Houston Rathel tried to kidnap a 10-year-old boy, according to an arrest affidavit.
The boy told the officer Rathel approached him while he was walking alone at Via Entertainment, located inside the Lake Square Mall. Rathel told the boy he “looked good” and asked if he wanted to go to the workout store. Rathel allegedly then grabbed the boy’s arm and took a step and the boy was able to pull away. The boy demonstrated how Rathel grabbed him with a firm grip on the officer’s forearm, the officer noted in the affidavit.
The boy ran back to his group of friends and told the 18-year-old male watching him what happened. As he was telling the story, he noticed Rathel was talking to two other juveniles.
Those juveniles, both 14, told the officer Rathel approached them and asked if they, ”wanted to sell some weed (marijuana) or make extra cash.” One of the juveniles said, “We don’t talk to strangers,” and Rathel responded, “[Expletive] y’all.”
When Rathel was questioned by the arresting officer he first denied the claims but then later admitted to a deputy he did ask the two juveniles if they would sell weed for him and he knows Lake County weed is “bad” and Orange County weed is “better.”
Rathel was charged with false imprisonment (luring or enticing a child) and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He is being held at the Lake County Jail on $45,000 bond.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. In addition, she has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]