Florida Mom, Off-Duty Deputy Stop Abduction of 13-Year-Old Girl

June 8, 2016 Updated: June 8, 2016

A Florida mother and an off-duty deputy thwarted an child abduction attempt at a dollar store, which was captured on video.

The unnamed mother was shopping with her 13-year-old daughter in Hernando when the suspect, Craig Bonello, tried to grab the young girl, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The mother reacted quickly as the 30-year-old man ran with her daughter. She chased him and grabbed her daughter’s arm in a tug-of-war type incident.

“In my ten years on the road I have never seen anything like this,” said Sgt. Craig Callahan of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in a separate statement. “He truly intended to abduct this child right in front of everyone in the store.”

The mom wouldn’t let go as she was dragged through the store. Bonello eventually gave up and let go of the girl.

(Citrus County Sheriff's Office)
(Citrus County Sheriff’s Office)

The suspect ran out of the door just as deputy Jonathan Behnen went inside. The store manager yelled at him, and the officer pulled his patrol car in front of Bonello’s vehicle.

“Behnen is a bona fide hero today,” said Capt. Ricky Grant “If it weren’t for him, this guy would have gotten away.”

The mother and the teen girl were left unharmed.

“Thank goodness the girl’s mother jumped into action to prevent this man from kidnapping her daughter,” Grand added. “And, thank goodness, Dep. Behnen used his training and experience to stop this man from escaping.”

Deputy Behen (Citrus County Sheriff's Office)
Deputy Behen (Citrus County Sheriff’s Office)

Bonello has been arrested several times, including trespassing, aggravated battery on an officer, and other charges.

Charges against Bonello in the attempted kidnapping case are pending, the sheriff’s office said.

“This certainly supports the reason why we let deputies take their vehicles home,” added Grant. “Thank goodness Dep. Behnen was there to catch Bonello before he got away.”