Authorities have arrested a man they say tried to kidnap a 9-year-old girl in Stafford County, Virginia, after she got off a school bus, they announced Saturday.
Just before 3 p.m. Friday, a man approached the girl on Basswood Drive in the Embrey Mill community in Stafford and asked her for directions, the Stafford County Sheriff's Office said. The man then grabbed the girl and forced her into a black Buick Regal, they said.
As the man walked around the car to get into the driver's seat, the girl was able to get out of the passenger's side door, authorities said. She then ran home.
Stafford County authorities called her a "brave young lady."
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Authorities say they identified the suspect as 34-year-old Steven Randall Williams. A SWAT team surrounded Williams' home on Owens Street in Stafford just before 9 p.m., but he refused to come outside, they said.
Authorities sent a drone into the home and used a robot to open doors, and a crisis negotiation team attempted to speak to Williams. They also tried chemical munitions. Ultimately, a K-9 was sent into the home. The dog found Williams just before 3 a.m. He was then taken into custody.
Williams is being held without bond on one count of abduction.
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The girl's father was too shaken to speak to News4 on camera, but he said he's extremely proud of his daughter for reacting so quickly, which is what they’ve trained her to do.
"A call like this is all hands on deck for the Stafford Sheriff’s Office," the sheriff's office said in a release Saturday. "Dispatchers took leads from the public, while deputies and detectives began investigating leads and collecting evidence. Thank you to the public for sharing the photo of the suspect vehicle and providing valuable leads."
Horrified neighbors said they would take extra precautions to keep their children safe.
"I have a 9-year-old child myself, so I can't even imagine what the family's going through," Kamarin Nicholes said. He described the community as "quiet," and couldn't believe that the crime took place there.
"We're gonna be out there at the bus stop no mater how cold it is just to make sure, because it was literally right after school that this happened," neighbor Genesis Dorado said. "My God, to the little girl, I applaud you. We care for you, we don't know who you are but we are supporting you. We love you."
Another man said he keeps a close eye on his granddaughter who occasionally visits.
"But it does definitely open our eyes to what the potential is if she's not within eyesight," Russell Stegemoller said.
The sheriff’s office said the suspect had previously served two years in prison for a home invasion and robbery in Stafford. Authorities said he tied up a mother and her 10-year-old son in 2016, but got a shorter sentence because he testified against his accomplice.