Florida Mother Fights Off 13-Year-Old Daughter’s Kidnapper [Video]

A Florida mom desperately fought off her 13-year-old daughter’s would-be kidnapper on Tuesday, and the entire struggle was caught by an array of security cameras.

The suspect fled the scene when he failed to pry the 13-year-old girl from her mother’s grip, but he was later captured by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.

The New York Daily News reports that the mother was shopping with her daughter at a Dollar General store in Hernando, Florida, at around noon on Tuesday when a man identified as 30-year-old Craig Bonello attempted to abduct her.

Security camera footage shows the suspect casually push a shopping cart down an aisle and then briefly pace back and forth while stretching. He then leaves the camera’s field of view.

“You can tell he searched out his victims, he stretched and he went after that child with terrible terrible motives,” Citrus County Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy said at a press conference Wednesday.

When Bonello shows back up moments later in the corner of the screen, he appears to calmly approach the mother and daughter before suddenly grabbing the girl. He then enters full view dragging the unidentified 13-year-old girl down the aisle, while her mother chases after them.

Surveillance footage from a different camera, located closer to the front of the store, shows the mother struggling to prevent the man from pulling her daughter past the cash registers and onto the street.

“He was getting his butt kicked by mom,” Dawsey said of the struggle.

The security video ends when the mother finally proves too much for the Bonello, and the suspect subsequently flees the scene.

CBS News reports that the mother and daughter were able to flag down off-duty sheriff’s deputy John Behnen outside the Dollar General immediately after the failed kidnapping attempt.

The deputy initially believed it was a case of shoplifting when he saw the suspect flee, but the store manager and the mother both informed him that the man had just attempted to kidnap a 13-year-old girl.

Behnen followed the suspect to his vehicle, managed to get the door open, and apprehended Bonello.

“I banged on the glass with my gun to try and break,” Behnen said at a press conference Wednesday. “He fought a little bit, but when he realized I had the upper edge, he complied with everything thereafter.”

Bonello was arrested and appeared in court on Wednesday. He faces charges of both child abuse and kidnapping.

According to an affidavit, Bonello claimed that he did not know the victim prior to the failed abduction attempt. He also refused to indicate what his intentions were.

“The defendant would not advise what he planned on doing after he would have taken the victim.”

Sheriff Jeff Dawsy told the Tampa Bay Times that Bonello claimed to have “done this before,” which would indicate that he has either kidnapped or attempted to kidnap another girl at some time in the past. However, detectives have not been able to substantiate that claim, and Bonello has never been arrested for kidnapping before.

According to NBC News, Bonello was arrested for trespassing in an area Walmart store last February, and he has accumulated a number of other misdemeanor arrests on his record since 2009. If this isn’t the first time he has attempted to kidnap a young girl, any previous attempt may not have been reported.

The suspect’s uncle told NBC News that he suffers from psychological problems.

“It’s just sad that this has happened, because this is not the kid that grew up with my kids,” the uncle explained. “He needs to talk to some psychiatrists and find out what the issue is.”

While it isn’t clear why he targeted the 13-year-old girl, her mother’s quick reaction thwarted any plans he might have had, and Sheriff Dawsey encouraged other parents to fight the same way if ever placed in a similar situation.

“In that particular situation you don’t back away,” Dawsy said at a press conference. “If your child is being snatched, you are going to do anything.”

Although the mother was ultimately successful in her tug-of-war with the would-be kidnapper, nobody else came to her aid until after she had fought him off and the suspect fled the store. If you witnessed a man attempting to kidnap a 13-year-old girl, would you step in?

[Image via Citrus County Sheriff’s Department]