BY JENNIFER CABRERA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Kenneth Emmanuel Cruz-Santiago, 23, was arrested late last night and charged with aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, aggravated battery causing bodily harm, and kidnapping while committing a felony.
On Thursday, an Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputy made contact with a victim at an emergency room who had facial injuries. The victim reportedly said his friend “Kenny” had called him, complaining of chest pain, and asked the victim to pick him up and take him to the hospital. The victim picked Cruz-Santiago up at the Legacy at Fort Clarke apartment complex, and while driving, Cruz-Santiago allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim’s head and torso, demanding that he drive him to several neighborhoods.
The victim reportedly said that Cruz-Santiago told him he would kill him if he did not comply, and he believed Cruz-Santiago would shoot him if he did not continue to drive him around. The victim said that as they stopped in several neighborhoods, Cruz-Santiago would get out of the truck, wave his gun around, then get back in the truck and ask the victim to drive him to a different neighborhood. The victim also said Cruz-Santiago hit him above his eye with a cell phone.
The incident ended when Cruz-Santiago directed the victim to return to Legacy at Ft. Clarke and then got out of the car at a car wash on the property. When he got out, he allegedly continued to point the gun at the victim and told him to hide the vehicle in the area behind the car wash. Once Cruz-Santiago was out of the vehicle, the victim sped away to escape but hit a curb and entered a ditch, deploying the airbags. However, the vehicle was still operable, and the victim left the area to make contact with law enforcement. A cell phone belonging to Cruz-Santiago was reportedly found in the victim’s vehicle.
The Combined Communications Center received other calls during the incident, including one from a witness who said he saw a man get out of a truck acting erratically and asking questions in a manner that was “definitely not right.” That witness also saw the victim drive the truck over the curb and saw Cruz-Santiago run after him.
Post Miranda, Cruz-Santiago reportedly said he had no recollection of the events of the day and initially said he was not in the truck but then admitted that he had been. He also reportedly knew that his phone had been left in the truck. He said he does not have a firearm, and a firearm was not located.
In January 2020, Cruz-Santiago was sentenced to 74 days in jail and 27 months of drug offender probation on charges of simple battery and drug possession, with adjudication of guilt withheld. He violated his probation in November 2021 when his urine tested positive for marijuana, and he served 34 days in jail.
Cruz-Santiago has a juvenile history, one adult felony conviction, and two pending felony/traffic cases, one in Alachua County for driving without a valid license, and one in Gilchrist County for DUI and fleeing. He posted a $30,000 bond in Gilchrist County. Judge Walter Green set bond in the kidnapping case at $30,000.
Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.