Every parent is aware of the threat that strangers pose to a child in public spaces, but unfortunately, children cannot possibly be watched at every moment. For one unknowing Florida family, treachery was lurking in a McDonald's bathroom.
The family of four stopped at a Jacksonville McDonald's on the evening of Aug. 20 so that the two boys in the family, 6 and 7 years old, could use the restroom. The boys went into the men's restroom together, but when only the 7-year-old came out, the father decided to enter the bathroom to check on his younger son.
Police Chief Tom Hackney spoke with jacksonville.com
of the Florida Times-Union regarding the incident, explaining that the father of the boys noticed a man leaving one of the bathroom stalls as he was entering. Upon looking into the stall from which that man came, the father found his 6-year-old son zipping up his pants, as reported by FCN
. Realizing that the man who had just exited the bathroom could have attacked his son in some way, the father ran after the suspect. The father lost sight of the suspect during this chase, and so the family reported the incident to the sheriff's office later that evening.
Jacksonville.com reported that detectives were able to ascertain that some kind of crime had been committed in the bathroom by reviewing the boy's medical records and by conducting interviews. Hackney stated, “We indeed did have some type of sex crime." Hackney told jacksonville.com that the older brother, the 7-year-old, did not seem to have any kind of interaction with the suspect.
A witness saw the suspect the next afternoon near the same McDonald's and alerted authorities, who discovered the man in a dumpster, as reported by jacksonville.com. Authorities were able to arrest him on charges of possession of marijuana after finding a small quantity in the man's pocket. After being brought in for questioning, the suspect was identified by several witnesses as the attacker. The man, named Keith Andre Sykes, was charged with capital sexual battery and booked into jail.
The family's story is a reminder of why it is absolutely crucial for parents to educate their young children. Hackney told jacksonville.com, "You never know what’s on the other side of a bathroom door," urging parents to inform their children of dangers associated with interacting with strangers, concluding, "Some plan is better than no plan at all."