Horrific surveillance footage showed an 11-year-old girl fighting off a man wielding a knife in an attempted kidnapping that took place in Pensacola, Florida.
Fortunately, Alyssa Bonal—the young girl who the Escambia County Sheriffs Office called a hero—managed to flee after she bravely fought off her attacker.
Bonal was waiting at a bus stop around 7am on a Tuesday morning when the suspect—who was identified as 30-year-old Jared Stanga—pulled up in a white van. He emerged from the vehicle armed with a knife and grabbed Bonal and tried to carry her into the van.
But she put up a fight by resisting his attempts and caused them both to fall to the ground. She immediately got up, retrieved her backpack and managed to run away from her captor.
She ran to her nearest neighbor's house—whose door was left open.
Stanga was seen running back to his van and driving away from the scene.
You can watch the CCTV clip, here.
WARNING: assault of a minor
Bonal recalled her scary encounter with WKRG.
"What is he going to do with me? Where is he going to…where am I going to be at? What is my family going to think? Scared… anxious."
"A man came out of the car. He had a knife in his hand. I tried running off but he grabbed me."
"He took me with his arm and I was able to get him down to the ground and I was able to get away."
At a press conference, Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said of Bonal:
"She fought and she fought and she fought, until finally she was able to break free from her would-be captor."
He explained Stanga—whose name was not released at the time of the briefing—was found and arrested within eight hours of deputies going door-to-door to gather surveillance footage and searching for witnesses. Simmons added 50 officers were deployed in the area in pursuit of the suspect.
Through successful investigative efforts, officers managed to track Stanga's van by its license plate number and tied it to his residence.
Once officers found the van, they noticed the front silver bumper had been painted black in an effort to cover up his crime.
Moments before Bonal's encounter with the suspect, Simmons mentioned she had been playing with "blue slime"—traces of which were found all over Stanga's body once he was caught by authorities.
He was also wearing the same clothes as the ones he wore in the surveillance footage.
You can watch a video of the press conference with Sheriff Simmons, here:
Simmons said the 30-year-old felon has an "extensive criminal history, including—but not limited to—sexual offenses with a child."
He also noted this was not Stanga's first possible abduction attempt with Bonal.
Stanga allegedly approached her two weeks earlier and Bonal knew at the time something was not right.
So she immediately informed her parents, teachers and principal about her encounter with him.
Stanga is now charged with the attempted kidnapping of a child under 13 and aggravated assault and battery. He is being held in the Escambia County Jail on a $1.5 million dollar bond.
"He will never be free to do this again," Simmons said of Stanga.
Simmons said Bonal was doing okay, aside from some scratches and a "little bit of mental trauma."
"I cannot help to think that this could've ended differently had this 11-year-old victim had not thought to fight and to fight, and to just never give up, then this could've ended terribly."
"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."
Bonal's mother, Amber Bonal, told WKRG she usually watches her daughter closely but happened to be running late in getting to her daughter that day. She is thankful her 11-year-old got home safely.
You can watch Bonal and her mother speaking out about the attempted kidnapping in the clip, below:
The relieved mother relayed a special message to other parents.
"I want parents to be extra aware," she said. "Even parents that watch their kids 24/7. The one time you don't… that was the one time that I was running late. I had to change the baby's diaper."