PENSACOLA, Fla. – An 11-year-old-girl who escaped an attempted abduction is being called a hero after video footage was released showing how she defended herself against a stranger attempting to carry her to his vehicle.
Surveillance video shows the girl sitting at a bus stop in Pensacola on Tuesday morning when a white Dodge Journey drove by and returned about a minute later. A man is then seen exiting the vehicle and running toward the girl.
The girl immediately tried to grab her things and run, but the man – later identified as Jared Paul Stanga – grabbed the girl.
A struggle ensued between the two when Stanga fell on top of the girl before he eventually let her go and ran back to his vehicle. The girl quickly grabbed her things and ran out of frame while Stanga drove away in the same direction.
The girl reportedly was able to run home and notify her parents of the incident. Her parents then called law enforcement.
Stanga was arrested later in the day after Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons asked for the public's help in identifying the man seen on video.
Sheriff's office confirms: Man in custody after attempted kidnapping of 11-year-old girl
'It’s just terrifying': Video shows 4-year-old being taken from bed before being found dead on Dallas street
Simmons said the 11-year-old girl was playing with blue slime when the attempted kidnapping took place. The suspect was seen in surveillance videos at convenience stores and other areas in town Tuesday with blue slime on his arms.
The girl and her mother are “working through this,” Simmons said, adding that the young girl is his “hero” for fighting as hard as she did.
Stanga has been charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under age 13, aggravated assault and aggravated battery, according to a social media post by the sheriff’s office.
Simmons said at a Tuesday evening press conference that Stanga has a history of sexual offenses against children.
"I cannot help to think that this could have ended very different had this 11-year-old victim not thought to fight, and to fight, and to just never give up. This could have ended terribly,” Simmons said. “Why else do you think that this man 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. They were not good.”
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pensacola, Florida attempted kidnapping: 11-year-old fights off man