This 11-year-old Florida girl is being called a hero after she narrowly escaped a would-be abductor at her bus stop — she even got a shoutout from Law & Order’s Mariska Hargitay
The video is an absolute nightmare: An 11-year-old girl is sitting in the grass at her bus stop, waiting for the bus to arrive to take her to school. Suddenly a car pulls up and a man comes running out of it, straight toward the girl. He grabs her. This could have ended in utter tragedy, but instead, a Florida girl is being called a hero after she fought off her would-be abductor and escaped unharmed.
The young girl, named Alyssa, was sitting at her bus stop when a white SUV drove up and parked nearby, according to video of the incident caught on a nearby surveillance camera. The man came barreling out of the car and grabbed the girl just before she was able to gather her things and run. As he attempted to carry her back to his car, they both fell to the ground. But then, she broke free and ran away. The man ran back to his SUV and drove away.
Police say the girl was able to run home, where she told her parents what had happened. They called the police.
Police released the video to the public and asked for their help identifying the would-be abductor. Jared Paul Stanga was later arrested. Police said he was found with blue slime all over his arms — the same slime the girl was playing with when he tried to take her.
Alyssa reportedly drew on her knowledge from watching Law and Order: SVU when she fought back against Stanga and escaped, which caught the attention of none other than Mariska Hargitay herself. “Alyssa, first and most important, I am so relieved and grateful to know that you are safe. And I am so honored to be part of your incredible story,” Hargitay writes. “You are one BRAVE, Strong and Smart young woman. I think the SVU squad might have to add slime to their crimefighting gear! ”
Police are also calling her a hero and have said that the little girl and her mom are “working through this.”
Stanga has been charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under age 13, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Police said he 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,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a press conference on Tuesday. “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.”