A man seen on shocking video attempting to drag an 11-year-old girl into his vehicle in broad daylight is now under arrest. The suspect is Jared Paul Stanga, 30, said authorities in Florida.
The suspect vehicle, a Dodge Journey, drove by a couple of times as the child was waiting for a school bus, Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said in a press conference on Tuesday. Then, as shown on video, the driver pulled to a stop, got out of the vehicle, and ran toward the girl.
The child spotted the man, gathered her things to escape, but he grabbed her. The suspect picked the child up, carrying her several feet before he stumbled and gave up. He fled back to the vehicle without her, and drove off.
The 11-year-old went limp during the confrontation, kicking, pushing, and punching her attacker, Simmons said. It was reported that the suspect had a knife, he said.
In a follow up press conference, the sheriff said that the child sustained some scrapes and some mental trauma, but he added that she and her mother were working through this. A reporter asked if he had a message for the child. He answered that she was going to be okay and that she’s a “hero.”
“My message to her is that she’s my hero,” he said. “My message is that she did not give up. She did the right thing. She fought, and she fought, and she fought, and she never gave up.”
Simmons had choice words for the defendant’s actions.
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“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what his intentions were, but they were not good,” he said. “So a life was saved.”
Investigators tracked down the vehicle’s tag number, which led them to an address where they arrested the suspect, Simmons said. In the initial press conference during the search for the would-be abductor, the suspect vehicle was described as a having a silver bumper. It was allegedly painted black by the time of the arrest. The paint smelled and ran like it was new, the sheriff said.
It was also noted that the 11-year-old was playing with blue slime as a toy at the time of the attempted abduction. The suspect allegedly had blue slime all over his arms when he was caught.
Stanga faces a count each of attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravated assault, and battery, the sheriff’s office said. He remains at the Escambia County Jail without bond, records show. He does not have an attorney of record at this time.
[Screengrab and mugshot via Escambia County Sheriff’s Office]
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