St. Petersburg police have arrested a man who they say committed a series of violent crimes in recent weeks, including raping a woman after he offered her a ride home from a gas station.
Cortiz Flowers, 23, is facing more than a dozen charges, including sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and grand theft auto.
Police said the sexual battery occurred on Wednesday when Flowers offered a woman a ride home from a gas station on 34th Street S in St. Petersburg. He then drove her to the Clam Bayou area, where he threatened her life, robbed her and raped her at gunpoint, police said.
Flowers is also accused of striking a man in the head, knocking him unconscious and stealing his wallet and cash in the 1500 block of 34th Street S on Nov. 3.
Flowers was also involved in a hit-and-run crash in Clearwater near Drew Street and Myrtle Avenue while driving a stolen vehicle on Oct. 9, arrest affidavits state. The crash occurred after police had tried to stop him for driving the stolen vehicle, arrest reports state.
Flowers struck another car, causing “minor cuts and abrasions” to a woman in the car, then fled to a nearby gas station, where he got into the car of a man who was leaving the station, affidavits say. Flowers pointed a gun at the man and demanded that he pick up Flowers’ accomplice to drive them away from the scene, police said.
Flowers mentioned going to a mechanic shop to “take care of things,” according to the arrest affidavit, and the victim feared that Flowers intended to kill him and dismantle the car.
Flowers later exited the car and took off. He also removed an ankle monitor that he had been wearing, reports state. He was out on bail and was wearing the ankle monitor after a previous arrest on charges of aggravated assault and the illegal possession of a firearm by a violent career offender, records show.
Records show Flowers was sentenced to six years in prison in 2018 for a number of crimes, including attempted murder. Records show he shot a man in the stomach in St. Petersburg when he was 16. He was released from prison in March and arrested again in July on the aggravated assault and illegal firearms possession charges.
Flowers was arrested Thursday with the help of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, police said. He was being held in the Pinellas County Jail on Saturday. Police noted in arrest reports that he is a gang member.