She learned how to defend herself in a threatening situation from her mother. The education really came in handy for this 6-year-old girl who bravely escaped a terrifying abduction attempt outside her home.
About 8 p.m. on July 6, the young girl, Ah’lyric, was playing in the courtyard of her apartment complex in the Little Haiti area of Miami, when she was approached by a strange man who tried to carry her away.
According to Miami Police Department, Ah’lyric was with her siblings when they noticed a white SUV rolling into the lot of their home.
NBC South Florida reports the 6-year-old was sitting on some stairs, waiting for her sisters and brother to return, when the man attacked her.
Police explained that the suspect grabbed Ah’lyric and started carrying her away to his vehicle, but she was able to fight him off, screaming and striking him several times.
Then she pulled her biggest move.
She bit him, hard, causing him to drop her.
The courageous little girl, who has black braids decorated by bright pink beads, said she wasn’t scared.
“Suddenly it was a kidnapping,” Ah’lyric explained, adding “and then I bit him and then he slapped me and threw me on the floor and started running back to his car and left.”
Describing that she bit him “real hard” on the arm, Ah’lyric firmly said it was a kidnapping where the man “was trying to keep me…I already knew because we never seen no white and black car.”
The young girl’s mother Teshia McGill said she’s proud of her daughter for quickly reacting and defending herself. “Some kids can’t think quick like that I’m glad she knew how to fight back,” Teshia said.
Surveillance video shows the arrival of a Range Rover, that’s driven by the suspect who is then seen approaching the stairway where the 6-year-old was seated. A short time later, the man is spotted running across the building property and back to his vehicle.
By scanning his plates–that were captured in the footage–police were able to identify the man as 32-year-old Leonardo Venegas, of North Miami. Ah’lyric confirmed the man was Venegas, whom she earlier described as having “black hair with Jesus earrings and white clothes.”
Two days after the alleged abduction, Venegas–wearing a cross earring as described by Ah’lyric–was taken into custody and attempting to trick officers, he claimed that he was in the area looking to buy a home even though there were no “for sale signs” posted.
When Venegas was asked why he was running from the complex, he told police he had heard someone screaming. He then requested an attorney when questioned about his interaction with the girl.
“This is a case that has us extremely worried, concerned, something that’s not very common,” Miami Police Capt Freddie Cruz told NBC South Florida. “Luckily we were able to apprehend this individual.”
Warning children and urging parents to be vigilant, Cruz continued, “If you’re going to be playing outside, which is a wonderful thing, please, try to play in groups, try to have an adult present, some sort of supervision, know where your children (are), or if you’re a guardian, know where they are at. Just protect your kids and look over them, keep a close eye on them, cause anything can happen in the blink of an eye.”
Police are looking into the possibility of more victims, and asking anyone with information on Venegas to contact them.
When Ah’lyric was asked if she thinks she’s brave, the little girl spoke confidently and said, “yeah, just because people keep telling me that I’m brave.”
“I told her, don’t talk to strangers,” Teshia said. “I’m about to move because no telling what if…if he does get out, what if he tries to come back?” Until the family moves somewhere safer, Teshia adds, “she can play inside. I don’t think it’s safe for her to play outside.”
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Ah’lyric is such a brave little girl and we are thankful that she used some quick thinking to free herself from this dangerous man.
If you have any information on Leonardo Venegas, please contact your local police department.
Please share this story and let other parents know that a child of any size can fight back and stay safe!