WATCH: Man allegedly attempts to kidnap 11-year-old girl at bus stop
Watch an 11-year-old girl fight off a man as he attempts to pull her into his van
PENSACOLA, Fla. (KLKN)- Officers in Pensacola, Florida have arrested a suspect in connection to an alleged attempted kidnapping that was captured in a “chilling” video, according to authorities.
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, which released the video, said the incident occurred around 7 a.m. on Tuesday when an 11-year-0ld girl was waiting at a bus stop when a man armed with a knife left a white Dodge Journey and allegedly tried to kidnap her.
In the video, you can see a man running toward a girl who’s sitting on a spot of grass near a backpack. Before he grabs her, the girl tries to run away. As he’s pulling her back toward the vehicle, they both fall to the ground. Then, the girl breaks free, grabs her backpack, and runs away and the man gets back into the car and drives away.
Police have arrested 30-year-old Jared Paul Stanga and have charged him with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravated assault, and battery.
“We have caught the animal,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons told reporters.
The sheriff said that deputies worked quickly to locate the suspect, searching through surveillance video, scouring the area, tracking down witnesses, and going door to door.
“We understand that we only had a short period of time,” Simmons said. “We wanted to make sure they didn’t ditch this van, they didn’t leave town.”
Their search led them to Stanga’s doorstep, where authorities found him wearing clothes that matched the man’s in the video. Stanga also had a similar van to the one in the video, except its silver bumper was freshly painted black, Simmons said.
During the attempted abduction, the girl had been playing with blue slime. Simmons said that the suspect allegedly had blue slime all over his arms.
According to authorities, Stanga has an “extensive” criminal record, including a previous charge involving a sex offense with a child.
“Our concern is this wasn’t his first try,” said the sheriff, who was “shocked” something like this happened in Escambia County.
Around two weeks ago, Simmons said the suspect allegedly approached the same girl who told her parents, teachers, and principal about it.
“She knew something was wrong,” he said.
Following the attempted abduction, authorities say the girl is safe with her family. Simmons said she’s a hero.
“We applaud the efforts and the resilience of an 11-year-old girl,” Simmons said. “She did the right thing — she fought and she fought and she fought and she never gave up. And then she went straight to her parents which she should have done, told her parents what was going on, who in turn contacted the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.”
“We got the information out so quickly that … our suspect tried to paint his car,” he said.