FORT PIERCE, Fla. - A Fort Pierce woman claims she was abducted at gunpoint, then sexually assaulted by two suspects, before authorities began a chase that crossed county lines.
Her best friend, who says she witnessed the carjacking and kidnapping, said she immediately contacted police.
"I just automatically knew that there had to be some type, whether it was a gun, a knife, or whatever, had to be some type of weapon, because she didn't scream," said the victim's friend.
It's not yet clear whether the two men are in transit to the St. Lucie County jail, whether authorities expect them to be transferred, but Garry Wilson, Chief Deputy of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, said he expects them to be transferred soon. He said, by law, the two men first were booked into the Indian River County jail, since they were first arrested in that district.
"This is a very serious crime," explained Chief Deputy Wilson. "Any time people are taken at gunpoint from their vehicle, and then there is a sexual assault, and these other terrible events that took place, I think it's a testament about what law enforcement is about and why we do these joint operations and why we work together with Fort Pierce on things like this."
The victim's best friend, who did not want to be identified, said she was shocked when she said she saw two men abduct the victim in a neighborhood near Avenue L in Fort Pierce.
"When I turned around, they came to both sides of the vehicle, and I just seen them pull out my friend," she said. "They walked up, and it was just like they came straight up the sky. That's just how much we paid attention to them."
She said neither she nor the victim knew the men, 24-year-old Todd Stephens and 18-year-old Derrick Bynum, both of Vero Beach.
According to police reports, last night, Stephens and Bynum kidnapped the victim at gunpoint in Fort Pierce, and stole her car. Police and sheriff's deputies began a pursuit that ended with arrests in Indian River County.
"The driver began driving recklessly, we attempted to stop him. It was at this time, that the suspect rammed the deputy's vehicle, and then continued to flee the scene," said Wilson.
Detectives are now investigating whether the 26-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by the men in an unincorporated part of St. Lucie County.
"She's still in shock," said her friend, who said she spoke with her after the incident. "She's still very upset that someone would even violate her like that."
As police continue their investigation, there are no formal charges stemming from allegations of a sexual assault, but Bynum is charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding, felony battery on an officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Stephens faces charges of resisting arrest and use or display of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Bynum and Stephens both appeared in county court in Indian River County Thursday morning.
Authorities say they expect more charges will come soon from multiple agencies.