Community tips help lead to arrest of accused child predator

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 15 at 6:41 PM

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas - A Hutto man allegedly tried to kidnap two young girls in Pflugerville, and now the accused child predator is behind bars.

Justin Michael Johnson, 23, is charged with two counts of attempted aggravated kidnapping. He is being held in the Travis County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

People that live in the Falcon Pointe community say it's a neighborhood full of families with an elementary school, middle school and the high school all in walking distance.

"We're a really close knit neighborhood," said April White. "We all know each other's kids and everybody walks to school together."

Just after 7 a.m. Wednesday, two girls ages nine and 10 took off for school on the hike and bike trail behind their street. A man grabbed one of the girls and covered her mouth when she started to scream, and the other took off running. Shortly after, the other victim escaped, and both girls ran to Murchison Elementary and reported it to the staff.

"The little girls involved in these incidents are the real heroes of this particular situation," says Pflugerville Mayor Jeff Coleman. "It was because of, first of all, their being in a group that helped make them safe, it was the fact that they learned lessons to fight and get away and they paid attention and they were able to give information to Pflugerville Police Department."

Police say witnesses also told them about a suspicious red truck seen near the schools. They say the girls gave an accurate and detailed description of the suspect, helping them create sketches -- one with a goatee and one with out, just in case the suspect decided to shave.

"Every truck they saw, every male they thought looked like him, they called in," said Pflugerville Police Lt. Laura Wilkes describing the response from the community.

Police claim one tip that played a key part in catching Johnson came from a young boy shopping with his mom at Target. He saw a man who looked like the suspect and told his mom. She then called police to report it. Police say that, along with several sightings of the suspicious red truck, led police to Johnson's home in Hutto.

"Someone took the time to pay attention, and because of them we have a child predator who is off the streets of Central Texas," Lt. Wilkes said.

Police say Johnson confessed to the crimes along with several other similar cases from previous months.

"I was first upset by what happened, but seeing how the school handled it, how the Pflugerville police handled it, I feel a lot more comfortable," said Falcon Pointe resident Keith White.

At this point police say they're unsure of a motive but do know that these were planned incidents.

Johnson is in the Travis County Jail with bond set at $300,000.

Johnson also confessed to two other similar crimes. The first happened on Dec. 18 in Travis County. He is accused of grabbing a young girl in the greenbelt area. The second incident happened on Feb. 1 in Pflugerville when police say Johnson acted suspiciously, cursing at young children along Cistern Cove just north of where the two young girls were walking Wednesday.

At this point, he has not been charged in these cases, but charges are pending.

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