“Man I thank God we got this little girl, man. I ain’t lying, it’s a blessing,” Dion Merrick said on Facebook Live while documenting the event.
While Dion Merrick was working his regular route as a sanitation worker in Louisiana, he and a coworker spotted a suspicious vehicle and immediately sprang into action.
According to ABC News, Merrick and Brandon Antoine spotted the grey Nissan Altima in a field in St. Martin Parish.
The sanitation workers questioned why the vehicle was in the middle of the field and used their truck to block the suspect from leaving the scene until law enforcement arrived.
As it turns out, Jalisa Lasalle, 10, was in the car with the man suspected of abducting her from a family member’s home. Though her rescuers didn’t know it, an Amber Alert was issued and she was reported missing Sunday evening.
Merrick went live on Facebook, broadcasting the experience and sharing his reason for getting involved.
“”Something told me … I said, what’s that car doing off in the field like that?” he questioned, speaking to viewers of his live upload.
“Man I thank God we got this little girl, man. I ain’t lying, it’s a blessing,” he said on the video. “People act like they see stuff but they don’t want to say nothing. But she’s safe now. Thank God man, because I got a little girl. I’m on my job doing what I got to do.”
According to the report, state police said there were issues initially sending the Amber Alert through their system so another agency sent the alert at around 1:18 a.m. According to the news outlet, law enforcement must be aware of “very specific information about abductor and or the vehicle, such as license plate,” and said the initial “information given to the local police department was too general.”
The New Iberia Police Department issued an official statement on the safe return of the kidnapped girl, They identified Michael Sereal as the main suspect in the abduction.
“Sereal was taken into custody by St. Martin Parish Deputies and then transferred to the custody of the New Iberia Police Department where he is being arrested for Aggravated Kidnapping. Jalisa was found safe!” the statement confirmed.
According to ABC News, Sereal, 33, can be heard in Merrick’s Facebook video questioning “Why are you doing this to me?” The outlet reported he is currently being held at the Iberia Parish Jail without bond on charges of aggravated kidnapping of a child and the failure to register as a sex offender.
According to the report, he is the acquaintance of someone related to Lasalle. Sereal is listed on the New Iberia sex offender database for Carnal knowledge of a juvenile with a 2006 conviction.
Pelican Waste and Debris, the company that employs Merrick and Antoine showed gratitude for their actions. In a statement released to ABC, CEO Roddie Matherne celebrated their quick thinking.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Dion and Brandon,” Matherne said in an email to the news outlet. “In fact, All of our Pelican Waste team have been heroically working without fail during the pandemic quietly, professionally, and consistently serving the communities where we collect garbage & debris. They often respond in other ways while on the road. This was an exceptional thing that may very well have saved a little girl’s [life].”
Both Merrick and Antoine are fathers themselves, which they say influenced their decision to follow through on the suspicious vehicle.
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