GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - Guntersville police have arrested a man and charged him with traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act.
Nickolas Black, 22, of Arab, also was charged with electronic solicitation of a child under 16 and transmitting elicit material to a child over a computer.
Guntersville Police Chief Jim Peterson said a 17-year-old noticed one of his 15-year-old friends had been contacted by Black on Instagram.
WHNT News 19 spoke exclusively with the teen who said several of his other friends had also been contacted by Black.
Afterward, the teen decided to take action into his own hands by portraying himself as his female friend. The teen said he continued texting with Black and then scheduled a meet. The boy recorded the confrontation and posted it online.
“They stayed with the individual after realized uh oh I'm caught, he tried to leave the store,” said Peterson.
Peterson told WHNT News 19 that police arrested Black Friday morning and searched his home. Peterson said the charges are related to a single underage victim currently, but there could be more. School employees and resource officers this week tried to identify any students who may have heard from him, Peterson said.
Peterson said while the teen helped catch Black, he put himself and his friends at risk. “Anytime you're dealing with someone that's involved in a crime, no matter how meek or meager they are when they're caught, you have no way of knowing how they're going to react."
Peterson said there were at least three similar cases across the state this week which demonstrates the prevalence of these types of crimes.
“Unfortunately, a lot of these people that do this are very savvy, very good salespeople. I do believe in this day and age; most younger people are aware that things happen like this through social media and texting. I do not think they are prepared for how to deal with that once it occurs."
Black was booked into the Marshall County Jail on $250,000 bond.
Marshall County District Attorney's Office said Traveling to meet a child for a sex act is a Class A felony sex offense, which carries a 10 to 99 or life in prison sentence and up to $60,000 in fines.
They said Electronic Solicitation of a Minor and Transmitting Obscene Material are Class B felony sex offenses, which is a two to 20-year prison sentence and up to a $30,000 fine.