Officials arrest man after video shows 11-year-old girl fighting off kidnap attempt
A Florida man was arrested and charged on Tuesday after graphic surveillance footage showed an individual trying to kidnap an 11-year-old girl waiting for her school bus.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office shared the footage on Facebook, which shows a white vehicle pulling up to the girl, who was waiting on a grassy median and playing with a blue slime toy at approximately 7 a.m. on Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla.
The footage shows the man getting out his vehicle and running towards the girl before grabbing her. She appears to fight back, and the man is seen falling to the ground and retreating to his vehicle.
The girl can be seen picking up her backpack and running away from the scene.
On Tuesday evening, Escambia County Sheriff’s officials arrested Jared Paul Stanga, 30, in connection to the incident, and charged him with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13 and aggravated assault.
Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons told reporters Tuesday evening, before officials identified the man as Stanga, that the attempted kidnapper ran towards the girl with a knife.
“He grabbed her, picked her up and tried to carry her into that van. She fought, and she fought and she fought, until finally, she was able to break free from her would-be captor,” Simmons said.
Simmons said that the suspect had an “extensive” criminal history, including sexual offenses against children.
Simmons also told reporters on Tuesday that the man had approached the girl approximately two weeks ago at the bus stop and “made her feel uncomfortable.” The girl told her parents and school officials, and her mother began going with her to the bus stop every day.
Tuesday was the first day that her mother did not accompany her to the bus stop.
Law enforcement officials said the suspect had blue slime on his arms when he was taken into custody, matching the blue slime toy that the girl had Tuesday morning.
“I am very proud of the efforts of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, but I cannot help to think that this could have ended very differently,” Simmons said.
“Had this 11-year-old victim not thought to fight and to fight and to just never give up, then this could have ended terribly. Why else do you think that this man stopped, stopped his van and tried to pick her up and take her into that van? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what his intentions were, but they were not good.”
Simmons called the girl, who sustained some scratches in the incident, “my hero,”
“My message is that she did not give up,” he said. “She did the right thing, and she fought and she fought.”
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