A Florida man was arrested last week on kidnapping charges after allegedly threatening a 17-year-old girl in a grocery store parking lot and forcing her to drive him and another woman through a coronavirus highway checkpoint into the Florida Keys, authorities said.
Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, has been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment and is being held at the Monroe County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to court records.
He and a woman identified as 43-year-old Michelle Lynne Peterson hailed a taxi to head into the Florida Keys on Thursday but were turned away at the U.S. 1 checkpoint at mile marker 112.5, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Despite both living there — Sardinas in Tavernier and Peterson in Islamorada — they lacked the proper identification and paperwork proving either residency or that they held jobs in the Keys, Adam Linhardt, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said.
Later that day, Sardinas approached a 17-year-old girl in a Publix parking lot. Police said the young woman was traveling from her father’s house in Homestead out to her mother’s in Key West, but had made a pit stop at the grocery store around noon. She was targeted because her vehicle had the proper hurricane reentry sticker and a Monroe County license plate that would clear her to pass through checkpoints.
Though there was no evidence Sardinas was armed, the man allegedly threatened to harm the girl if she touched her cellphone, according to the sheriff’s office. The girl then drove Sardinas and Peterson through the checkpoint, showing deputies her license, which has a Florida Keys address.