SPRINGFIELD, MASS. (WHDH) - A kidnapping suspect has been ordered held without bail after authorities say he grabbed a young girl after she got off her school bus in Springfield, pointed a knife at her, threatened to kill her if she screamed, and stuffed her into his vehicle, prompting a massive police response and an Amber Alert on Wednesday.
Miguel Rodriguez, 24, was arraigned Thursday morning in Springfield District Court on charges including kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, witness intimidation, and reckless behavior risking injury to a child in connection with the abduction of an 11-year-old girl.
A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of Rodriguez, who stood in court handcuffed and wearing a white Tyvek jumpsuit.
A judge also ordered Rodriguez to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Officers responding to a reported child abduction at 70 Amherst St. spoke with the girl’s neighbor, who said she had just witnessed a screaming girl being forced into a two-door Honda, according to a Springfield police arrest report. Additional officers were called to the scene before an Amber Alert was issued by state police.
Video footage obtained from a home security camera showed the suspect vehicle stopped in the same area where the witness observed the abduction, police said. Footage from the day before showed the same vehicle tailing the victim as she walked home from school, though the girl was able to get away safely before any harm was done.
Neighborhood resident Julius Kennedy recalled hearing the girl yell for help after seeing a stranger grab her and push her in his car around 1:30 p.m.
“It looked like a male from the other side, and he was bent over, and I heard her scream and holler. He threw her in the back,” Kennedy recalled.
During the course of an investigation, police say a concerned city resident told investigators that his daughter was approached by a blue Honda on Monday near a McDonald’s on State Street, prompting her to run into a nearby business and call for help. The girl pointed out the suspect when her father arrived to pick her up and they were able to record his license plate, police said.
Detectives reportedly ran an RMV query and learned the license plate was registered to a blue 2002 Honda owned by Rodriguez.
As law enforcement flooded the area in an attempt to track down Rodriguez, a caller reportedly told police that they spotted someone in the suspect vehicle trying to “push something down in the backseat” as it drove at a high rate of speed in the area of Boston Road and Worcester Street.
A short time later, Rodriguez’s sister called 911 and stated that he was likely the one driving the Honda, police said. Rodriguez was later tracked down near mile marker 70 on the Mass. Pike following a high-speed chase that reached 100 mph. He was then taken into custody at gunpoint.
When state troopers and Springfield police officers pulled the girl out of the vehicle, she reportedly told them that Rodriguez had pointed a knife at her and told her that he would kill her if she screamed or tried to escape.
7NEWS was there when state police arrested Rodriguez, who lived just a half-mile from the girl’s home.
After Rodriguez was handcuffed and taken to the Springfield Police Department for booking, police say a folding knife was found in his vehicle.
Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood called Rodriguez “evil” and said he took the girl for “nefarious reasons.”
“It was a matter of finding her quickly and not giving him time,” Clapprood said of the desperate effort to locate her.
Officials say the girl was shaken up but safe. She was evaluated as a precaution by EMS but state police say she had no apparent injuries.
Rodriguez was held overnight at the Massachusetts State Police – Charlton Barracks before being brought before the judge.
He is due back in court on Jan. 22 for a dangerousness hearing.
This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.
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