The girl was playing with a wad of blue slime while waiting at a school bus stop early Tuesday when the incident occurred, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
Surveillance video shows a white SUV rolling up to the scene and a man jumping out to accost the girl on a grassy lawn. The man rushes up to the girl and hauls her off her feet. He was reportedly holding a knife, police said.
“Luckily, she fights,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons told reporters on Tuesday. “She went limp. She’s kicking, she’s pushing, she’s punching and she’s able to get free.”
The man can be seen trying to carry the girl back to his SUV but she causes them to fall together onto the ground, foiling his effort. The girl then kicks at the man and forces him to flee back to his SUV for a getaway.
Police say the girl also managed to smear a bit of blue slime on her would-be abductor, which helped when authorities finally caught up with him.
The girl was uninjured after the encounter, and she immediately sought out her family to report the incident, police said.
Authorities swarmed the area in West Pensacola, Fla., throughout Tuesday, conducting dozens of interviews and collecting plenty of surveillance footage. They eventually identified the suspect from the tags on his vehicle, and found the same vehicle with a fresh coat of black paint later in the day. They also released the attack video online and ultimately found the suspect on Tuesday night.
“The suspect, when we caught him, had blue slime all over his arms,” Simmons said.
Jared Paul Stanga, 30, has been charged with the attempted kidnapping of a child under 13 and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and battery, jail records show. He was being held without bond on Wednesday.
Police say that the kidnapping attempt follows an earlier, uncomfortable encounter. The suspect had stopped to speak with the girl at the same spot a few weeks ago. The girl reported that incident to her family and her school.
“She knew something was wrong,” Simmons said of that previous incident.
The girl’s mother walked her to the bus stop every day after that encounter, but could not go with her on the day of the abduction attempt.
Simmons hailed the girl for never giving up the fight, and hinted at the suspect’s “rather long” criminal history.
“This could have ended very differently,” he said.