Chilling Video Shows 11-Year-Old Girl Fight Off Armed Kidnapper While Waiting for School Bus


An 11-year-old girl fought off her attempted kidnapper while she waited for the school bus on Tuesday morning in Pensacola, Florida, chilling video footage shows.

The girl was on her knees waiting for the bus when surveillance cameras caught a white Dodge Journey driving past her multiple times, WFLA-TV reported.

The SUV eventually stopped and a man reportedly armed with a knife got out and started running toward the girl.

She quickly grabbed her backpack and started to run away, but the man caught up to her and grabbed her.

As he pulled her toward his car, she punched and kicked at her attempted kidnapper until he tripped and released his grasp. Then the girl raced home.

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“His intent [was] to get her into his car and from that point on, we have no idea what horrors would have awaited this pool little girl,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a news conference.

The sheriff’s office quickly started a full-force, hours-long manhunt to locate the suspect, The Washington Post reported.

Deputies knocked on doors and eventually found a recently painted vehicle. Other security footage at a grocery store helped identify the suspect, who was seen with his arms covered in the blue slime the girl had been playing with.

Jared Paul Stranga, 30, was arrested Tuesday evening — about eight hours after the abduction attempt — and charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under age 13, aggravated assault and aggravated battery, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Stranga has an extensive criminal history, including past sexual crimes against children, the report said.

“I cannot help to think that this could have ended very differently,” Simmons said.

“Had this 11-year-old victim not thought to fight and to fight and to just never give up, then this could have ended terribly,” he said.

This was not the girl’s first run-in with Stranga; two weeks before this incident, the suspect had allegedly approached her at the same bus stop and spoke to her in Spanish.

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She told her mom, teachers and school principal about the incident, and her mother stayed with her at the bus stop. Tuesday was the first day the mother had felt comfortable with her going on her own again.

“We believe that this person has either been watching her specifically or was walking around, looking for an opportunity. Either way, it’s bad,” Simmons said at an earlier news conference.

The girl is doing OK with a few scratches and “mental trauma,” said the sheriff, who called Stanga an “animal” and described his actions as “evil.”

“She fought like a trooper, and one of these days I’m going to give her an award for fighting and fighting and fighting,” he said.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith