In a brazen kidnapping attempt, a man tried to drag a 13-year-old girl out of a Dollar General store in Hernando, Florida, as her mother wrestled with him to save her daughter from harm.
Investigators said Craig Bonello, 30, of Inverness will be charged with kidnapping and child abuse after trying to abduct the unidentified teenager at midday Tuesday.
A store surveillance video shows Bonello pushing a shopping cart then walking down an aisle and grabbing the girl while her mother’s back is turned. As he struggles to carry and drag the girl by her arms toward the exit, the mother runs after him, dives onto her daughter on the floor, grasps her daughter’s shoulders and arm and engages in a tug of war with Bonello until he lets go and runs outside.
In the parking lot, off-duty Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jonathan Behnen happened to be getting out of his patrol car. The store manager yelled and signaled to Behnen that Bonello was trying to flee. Behnen pulled his car in front of Bonello’s car and blocked him. He drew his gun, ordered the man out and arrested him, according to the sheriff’s office.
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“In my 10 years on the road I have never seen anything like this,” Sgt. Craig Callahan told WFLA-News Channel 8. “He truly intended to abduct the child in front of everybody in the store. It actually was violent enough to tear the girl’s shirt up pretty badly. We’re very fortunate the mother had the motherly instinct and did what she did. She may have saved her daughter’s life.”
Bonello was arrested for trespassing at an Inverness Walmart in February and has other arrests for misdemeanors since 2009. In the Walmart case, a mental competency evaluation for Bonello was ordered but no hearing has been held, according NBCNews.com.
“This was a chaotic scene with a lot at stake,” Cmdr. Buddy Grant said. “Thank goodness the girl’s mother jumped into action to prevent this man from kidnapping her daughter. And thank goodness Deputy Behnen used his training and experience to stop this man from escaping.”
Hernando is a town of about 9,000 people southwest of Ocala.