ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A man is in custody after an attempted kidnapping in the Florida Panhandle that was captured on video, deputies say.
Escambia County sheriff’s deputies say a white Dodge Journey pulled up to an 11-year-old girl waiting at a bus stop in West Pensacola around 7 a.m. Tuesday. Surveillance cameras captured it driving past her several times. Investigators say a man, later identified as Jared Paul Stanga, is accused of getting out of the SUV reportedly armed with a knife.
Video shows the girl dropping her bag as she struggles with Stanga, who picks her up at one point and attempts to carry her away, authorities say. The girl was able to fight and break free. She is safe with her family. According to the sheriff’s office, Stanga got back into the SUV after the failed kidnapping and took off.
Stanga was arrested Tuesday evening and charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, assault, and battery.
Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said Stanga had approached the girl once before, about two weeks ago, as she was waiting at a bus stop. He spoke Spanish, and the girl did not understand everything he said, but Simmons said the incident made the girl uncomfortable.
“She seems to be doing well,” Simmons said Tuesday. “I’m not so sure if she actually comprehends exactly what could have happened. She understands what happened. She fought like a trooper, and one of these days I’m going to give her an award for fighting, and fighting, and fighting.”