TAMPA — Irene Mack Campbell had a terrifying Friday night.
She said her grandson picked her up from her job as planned. But then he kidnapped her — forcing her to drive from Tampa to St. Petersburg as he stabbed her in the face and threatened to kill her. After more than 12 hours of circling around the city, he released her on 34th Street N, she said.
"We are very close," Campbell said. "That's why I was so shocked when it was all happening."
Tashard Reshea Dickens, 21, was arrested by St. Petersburg police Saturday afternoon and charged with armed kidnapping and aggravated battery, according to Tampa police.
At about 4:30 p.m. Friday, police say, Dickens picked up his 64-year-old grandmother in her Chrysler 300. But instead of taking her home, Dickens pulled out a knife and said, "We aren't going home."
"I thought I was going to die," Campbell said in a phone interview Saturday night.
He forced Campbell to drive for hours through Tampa and Pinellas County, in areas unfamiliar to her.
Family members called Campbell and Dickens on their cell phones, worried when the two hadn't made it home. Police said Dickens took his grandmother's cell phone and wouldn't let her answer. When his own phone rang, Dickens told his family he'd already dropped off Campbell.
Dickens told his grandmother to keep driving or be killed, police said.
"His mind was a little bit twisted. He was not himself," Campbell said. "He was talking about someone being after him. … He was talking stuff about how I knew about it. He said 'You know what's going on and I'm not gonna let you out of the car until you tell me.' "
At one point, they crossed the Sunshine Skyway bridge, and Dickens made threats about jumping off.
When the car was low on gas, Dickens told Campbell to stop at a gas station. When they got there, he tied her up, put her in the back seat and threatened to kill her if she moved.
After Dickens filled the tank, he made Campbell get back behind the wheel and drive.
Tampa police Lt. William Ferguson said Dickens broke into another car to steal clothes so he wouldn't be recognized.
Ferguson said Campbell was trying to keep her grandson calm, telling him she still loved him and to think positive.
"She did all the right things," Ferguson said.
At one point, Campbell tried to smash into another car in an attempt to stop the trip, police said. That angered Dickens further, and he stabbed her in the face, causing minor wounds.
Her voice cracking, Campbell said Saturday she has a 3-inch wound on her right cheek, another by her right eye and a gash on her temple.
Several more hours passed, and Dickens finally got out of the car on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg at 7:05 a.m., Campbell said.
"He said, 'I'm so sorry, Grandma. If I could take it back I would'," she recalled.
She said Dickens set her Global Positioning System for home on N 41st Street in Tampa and she drove away.
"I left him. He said to go. I didn't want to leave him but I did," Campbell said.
The ordeal lasted at least 12 hours, Ferguson said.
Ferguson said Campbell was taken to Tampa General Hospital to be evaluated.
State records show Dickens' first arrest came at age 12, when he was charged with aggravated battery. In 2008, he was arrested on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, but those charges were dropped.
"I just hope they can really find out what is going on with him and get him some psychiatric help," Campbell said. "… That's what he needs. That's what I'll be praying for."
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.