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TAMPA, Fla. – A North Carolina man, accused of attempting to kidnap a 4-year-old child from a Florida hotel room, was thwarted by bystanders and an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.

Desmond Maurice Johnson, 31, of Rose Hill, was charged Saturday with one count of attempted kidnapping and two counts of burglary with battery, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Tampa Police Department, Johnson entered a room at the Hampton Inn in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Three young children were sitting on the bed while their mother was in the bathroom, according to WTVT. According to police, the mother heard the children yelling and ran to assist them.


According to a news release, as Johnson fought with the mother for the child, occupants of a room across the hall heard the argument and helped bring her and the children into their room, WTSP reported. Johnson entered the room and eventually dragged the child into the hall while the mother held onto him, the Times reported.

Corey Reece, an off-duty deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, heard the commotion and held Johnson until Tampa police arrived, WTSP reported.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office released a statement praising Reece, who has been with the department since October 2017.

“We are very proud of his quick actions and attention to what could have been a very volatile situation,” the Sheriff’s Office said in its statement.

Tampa police said a motive for the attempted kidnapping was unclear, and that Johnson was not known to the woman or her children, the Times reported.

Johnson was being held without bail, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.