This shocking video captures the moment a heroic school girl fought off a man as he tried to abduct her.
An 11-year-old was waiting at a bus stop in Pensacola, Florida, at around 7am (local time) on Tuesday when the would-be kidnapper, 30, got out of his white van armed with a knife.
CCTV footage of the incident shows the assailant sprinting towards the child, grabbing her and attempting to drag her across the grass.
But the brave victim can be seen resisting his attempts and, as he pulls her back towards his vehicle, the pair fall to the ground.
At this point the girl breaks free, grabs her backpack and runs away. The man then flees back to his car and drives away.
“She fought and she fought and she fought, until finally she was able to break free from her would-be captor,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons told a press conference following the incident.
Deputies scrambled to hunt down the suspect, searching for surveillance recordings and going door-to-door, with around 50 officers deployed around the area.
It paid off – within eight hours a man had been arrested.
Jared Pail Stanga was charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravated assault and battery, officials confirmed.
His “extensive” criminal history includes a previous charge involving a sex offense with a child, they said.
“Our concern was this wasn’t his first try,” Simmons said, explaining that the suspect had allegedly approached the 11-year-old around two weeks earlier.
She told her parents, teachers and school principal at the time.
Sharing more details around the arrest, the sheriff told reporters that their investigations led deputies to the 30-year-old’s home where they found him in clothes that matched those worn by the aggressor in the video.
He also had “blue slime” all over his arms, Simmons added. The girl had been playing with blue slime at the time of the attempted abduction.
And in a suspected bid to cover up his crime, following local media reports, the suspect had painted the silver bumper on his van black.
“He will never be free to do this again,” Simmons said, confirming that the girl had escaped with some scratches and minor trauma but was now safely back with her family.
“We applaud the efforts and the resilience of the 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."
He added: “My message to her is that she is my hero, she did not give up.”