VIDEO – Attempted Child Abduction Leads to “Tug-of-War” with Mother, Off-Duty Deputy Captures Suspect
UPDATE: 6/8/2016, 10:09 A.M. – Craig Bonello, 30, of Hernando is charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of child abuse.
HERNANDO (CITRUS) – An unbelievable story out of Citrus County today, after attempted child abduction was thwarted by an off-duty Citrus County Sheriff’s Deputy who happened to stumble onto the scene.
According to officials, at 11:42 a.m. today, deputies responded to the Dollar General at 2560 N Trucks Ave, regarding a disturbance inside the store.
While deputies were en route, dispatchers learned that a child-abduction was in progress.
Officials say a man entered the store and at some point grabbed a 13-year-old female who was shopping with her mother. As he ran toward the exit of the store with the girl in his arms, the mother was able to catch up to him and grab onto her daughter. A “tug-of-war” ensued between the suspect and the mother, and screaming could be heard throughout the store. The suspect finally let go of the girl and ran out the front door of the Dollar General, just as off duty Deputy Jonathan Behnen was getting out of his patrol car to enter the store. Behnen had been to court earlier in the morning and had stopped at the store to grab supplies when he encountered the running suspect.
The store manager, who is known to Dep. Behnen, then yelled to him that the man running away had just tried to kidnap a child. At that moment Behnen jumped into action, pulling his patrol car in front of the suspect’s vehicle as he tried to exit the parking lot. He then ordered the man out of the car with his weapon in hand. After initially not complying, the man was taken into custody without further incident.
The mother and her daughter, although both very rattled, were uninjured.
“In my ten years on the road I have never seen anything like this,” said Sgt. Craig Callahan from the scene. “He truly intended to abduct this child right in front of everyone in the store.”
“Behnen is a bona fide hero today,” said Capt. Ricky Grant, who was also on scene. “If it weren’t for him, this guy would have gotten away.”
“This certainly supports the reason why we let deputies take their vehicles home,” added Capt. Grant. “Thank goodness Dep. Behnen was there to catch Bonello before he got away.”
The suspect, 30-year-old Craig Bonello of Inverness is expected to be charged later today but the exact charges are unknown at this time.
Bonello has been arrested several times by the CCSO, the last in Feb., 2016, for trespassing. His other charges were misdemeanors, except for an aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer back in 2009.
“This was a chaotic scene with a lot at stake,” said Commander Buddy Grant. “Thank goodness the girl’s mother jumped into action to prevent this man from kidnapping her daughter. And, thank goodness Dep. Behnen used his training and experience to stop this man from escaping. This is obviously someone who needs to be behind bars. He won’t be getting out anytime soon to do this again.”
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