Security footage shows a van stop near the girl in Pensacola yesterday. A man jumps out and runs at her with what appears to be a knife. He grabs her and puts her in a headlock.
Simmons says the girl was “playing with slime” and “minding her own business” when she was attacked.
“She was able to fight… She’s fighting, she’s kicking, she’s squirming. Ultimately she’s able to trip them both and then she gets up and runs away. Ultimately she goes home. He runs back to the van, gets in the van and takes off,” said Simmons.
Hours later, sheriff’s deputies found and arrested Jared Paul Stanga. He was charged with attempted kidnapping and aggravated assault with a knife.
Simmons said it was an all hands on deck effort with his department to apprehend the suspect.
“We had the description of the white van then we had about 50 deputies out. I sent everyone we could spare to go from every house to every business looking for this van,” said Simmons. “We got him on the phone but by that time we already had deputies at his home and just told him to come on outside because you’re under arrest.”
Simmons explained the 11-year-old girl and her family are okay, but are “dealing with it.”
“I mean obviously it was a traumatic experience for her. She has a couple of scratches, she was out of breath. It’s gonna take some time for her to determine what happened and where she goes from here,” said Simmons.
When asked what his advice to parents is, he stated it’s important to pay attention to their surroundings.
“If something doesn’t feel right, it probably is not right. Again I would tell them to do what ultimately saved this girl’s life and that is to fight and never give up. To scream, to kick, to throw things, to do everything you basically just fight like heck and it’ll probably save your life,” said Simmons.