by: Kaitlyn Chana Updated:
The search is on for the man believed to have raped a local mom near a shopping center.
But a neighbor who many have seen the attacker says the police did not take his claim seriously. Investigators said the woman was assaulted in front of her child near a shopping center in Bartram Park.
The incident report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office shows the man allegedly threatened to push the mom’s 6-month-old son into a retention pond if she didn’t comply. The report reads that the man started getting physical and then pushed her onto an old mattress in the woods before sexually assaulting her with her baby feet away.
A neighbor we spoke with believes he spotted the suspect the day after the attack. Bert Bates told Action News Jax he was making his usual Saturday run for coffee when he ran into a man in Fleming Island that acted odd.
“The gentleman in front of me looked beat-up, scratched, red-faced and something that you would notice,” said Bates.
Bates told Action News Jax he was walking out of a Gate gas station and he saw the man get into a car with poorly tinted windows that fits the description JSO released. Officers told us the suspect drove an old gray four-door Honda with damaged tint on the windows.
“It was a small four-door grayish brown car, not clean and the window is what stuck out. Like, that’s a horrible window job,” said Bates.
When Bates called the JSO dispatch line, he said he felt his tips were dismissed.
“It was worse than calling the customer service department,” said Bates.
Action News Jax reached out to JSO and they said it will take five to seven days to release the audio phone conversation.
The very next day, JSO contacted Action News Jax and said they had no record of a phone call from the number Bates used to contact dispatch. Action News Jax is looking to see if Bates called from any additional phone number. When we have that information, we will update this story.
Bates said he called because he wanted officers to check the gas station’s surveillance video.
Bates said JSO transferred him to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and he told his story again. He told us his information seemed to be trivial to them, too.
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