A quick-thinking boy who saw a would-be kidnapper try to abduct his 8-year-old sister fought off her assailant by firing at him with a slingshot, police say.
The incident happened at an undisclosed location in Alpena Township in northern Michigan. The girl was looking for mushrooms in her backyard when a stranger stepped out from the nearby woods and tried to drag her back into the forest. He covered her mouth as she struggled, but her 13-year-old brother had witnessed what happened from his bedroom window and began shooting at her attacker with his weapon, Michigan State Police say.
The incident happened on Wednesday but was not made public until Friday. Since 2010, an average of 350 people under the age of 21 are abducted by strangers each year, according to the FBI. But in this case, the teen’s swift action and sharp shooting saved his sister as the attacker fled the scene.
The suspect was hit in the head and chest with slingshot projectiles and “that caused him to let go,” Lieutenant John Grimshaw, commander of the local post of the Michigan State Troopers, told 9 and 10 News. “The girl was able to struggle and get away and he shot another one that hit the suspect in the chest and he then fled the scene.”
The siblings’ family raised the alarm and troopers found the suspect, a 17-year-old boy, hiding at a nearby gas station. “What he [the brother] did also helped us to identify who the suspect was because obviously, he had injuries from getting hit with a slingshot,” Grimshaw said.
The little girl and her family have been left incredibly shaken by the traumatic incident, he added.
The lieutenant gave some tough advice to children who should ever find themselves in a similar situation: “Fight, fight, do everything you can; bite the hand[…] stomp on their feet, kick them in the shin, do whatever you can to fight,” he said. “And then if your mouth is free, scream as loud as you possibly can.”
The girl’s uncle, who Newsweek is not naming, posted on Facebook: “Hey everyone earlier today my niece was almost kidnapped out of her own yard here in Alpena on the south end of town, a young 17-year-old with a black mohawk grab my niece and tried kidnapping her my nephew heard her screaming and saw through his window and shot the guy with a slingshot the guy let go cops were called found out that the guy now in custody, our kids are too precious to let somebody try to take them when your kids are outside playing, we really need to pay attention to what they’re doing and who’s around them I’m very proud of my nephew and I know my niece’s traumatized and I’m sending prayers for her they had to be extremely scary for her.”
Further details have not been released due to the suspect’s age, but police say he confessed that he planned to severely beat the child. He was charged as an adult on Thursday with attempted kidnapping, attempted assault to do great bodily harm less than murder, and one count of assault and battery. He was booked in jail on a $150,000 bond.
Newsweek reached out by email on Saturday to Michigan State Police for further information and comment.
This case is not the only one that features a heroic child foiling a kidnapper. Back in 2018, Jayme Closs, 13, made international headlines after she escaped from captivity after 88 days. She had been abducted by an intruder who murdered her parents but managed to escape from the box where she was held. Jake Patterson pleaded guilty to the horrific crimes and in 2019 was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
And last month, a missing 13-year-old girl was found locked in a man’s shed in Dallas after authorities say he enticed her away from home with methods “consistent with grooming.” The alleged kidnapper, 34-year-old Jorge Ivan Santos Camacho, is now facing a number of felony charges.
Children being kidnapped by strangers is rare though, authorities say. Far more common is parental abduction — when the child is smuggled away from an ex-partner or a non-biological caregiver such as an adoptive parent.
Last month, one such case had a happy ending when Washington state child Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who was kidnapped by her biological mother, was found alive and safe in Mexico, according to reports.