Tampa officers arrest suspected rapist early Saturday

- The victim of a sexual assault in Tampa was able to give police a highly-detailed description of the suspect, leading to his arrest.

Tampa PD said the 17-year-old victim was leaving the Circle K in the 6300 block of S Dale Mabry Highway around 4:30 a.m., when she noticed a man following her. She said he took out a knife and forced her behind the Family Dollar Store, where he raped her. 

Officers blanketed the area and, based on her description and surveillance video from the convenience store, found their suspect. Police said they think the attack was random, adding they saw him in the store at the same time as the victim. 

A family friend of the victim, who asked not to be identified by name, said she went to the hospital, having suffered injuries during the attack.

Police arrested 23-year-old Andre Dakota Lawson. He faces charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon and armed kidnapping. His records showed previous arrests in Hillsborough County, but they appeared to be non-violent. He was held without bond.


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