Police: Tip led to attempted kidnapping arrest

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Brownwood Bulletin

A caller’s tip helped investigators identify a suspect who was arrested for allegedly trying to grab a child Tuesday night in Hobby Lobby, Early police said.

Police and Brown County Jail records identified the man as Ronnie Jackson, 46, of Early. Jackson was arrested Thursday and booked on a charge of attempted kidnapping, jail records state. Jackson is also held on an Ector County motion to adjudicate for indecent exposure. Additionally, Jackson was charged with failure to identify.

Jackson remained jailed Friday in lie of bonds totaling $115,000.

Early police arrested Jackson after a man recognized Jackson from a surveillance photo posted on the Early Police Department’s Facebook page and released to the media, police said.

“Detective Steven Means and Ranger Jason Shea are to be commended for their diligence in the investigation and to the public for their calls with information regarding suspects,” Early Police Chief David Mercer said via email. “When the public and law enforcement work together on these cases, the chances for a good outcome greatly increase.”

According to an affidavit filed by Means in Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Bryan Thompson’s office:

Early officer Kelly Marsh responded Tuesday night to Hobby Lobby, where a manager said a female customer had reported being followed by a male. The manager said employees had noticed the man “checking out” female customers.

The manager said the man left the store quickly and drove away in a Ford Explorer after the female customer spoke with store staff.

Marsh spoke with the woman, who said she was shopping in Hobby Lobby while her 4-year-old daughter was at another location under adult supervision. She said the man began following her as soon as she entered the store.

She said every time she turned around, the man would be holding a cell phone to his ear, but she never heard the man speaking into the phone.

The woman left the store, picked up her daughter and returned to the store to shop. The same man began following the woman and her daughter.

The woman said her daughter paused to look at items in the store. She turned around and called for her daughter to come to her, and she saw the man “lunge past with his arms outstretched toward her daughter,” Means’ affidavit states. The woman said she believed the man was trying to grab her daughter.

The woman said she grabbed her daughter, went to the front cash register and notified an employee. The woman said she saw the man leave quickly.

The woman was extremely shaken up and asked an employee to escort her to her car.

Means went to the Hobby Lobby store Wednesday, where management assisted Means in locating the man on surveillance video. The video showed the child’s mother speaking with a store employee, and the man is seen leaving the store holding a cell phone or some other object to his ear.

Mercer, the Early police chief, posted a still photo from the video on the police department’s Facebook page and requested assistance from the public in identifying the man.

Means met with the woman Thursday and had her demonstrate the man’s action toward her daughter. The woman took a large step and reached out with both hands, Means’ affidavit states.

Also on Thursday, Means received a phone call from a man who said he recognized the man in the photo as Jackson. The man said Jackson wears the same boonie-style hat and work boots to work that are seen in the photo.

Mercer learned Jackson was living in a small shack on property off FM 3100. Means and Mercer located the property, and Means and Texas Ranger Shea went on to locate Jackson.

Jackson said he was the man shown in the surveillance photo and denied lunging at any child. Jackson provided a false date of birth, and Shea was able to determine the actual birth date and learned Jackson had an Ector County warrant, Means’ affidavit states. Jackson was arrested on the warrant and on a charge of failure to identify as a fugitive from justice, Means’ affidavit states.

After Jackson was notified of his rights, Jackson said he’d gone to Hobby Lobby to buy spray paint and left after no more than 10 minutes. Jackson said he did not lunge at a child and did not remember even seeing a child.

Means reviewed Hobby Lobby video footage which showed Jackson entered the store Tuesday at 6:24 p.m. and left at 7:36 p.m. It was apparent Jackson was in the store for more than an hour, Means’ affidavit states.

Ronnie Jackson