SPRINGFIELD, MASS. (WHDH) - Authorities are praising the public for their help in locating an 11-year-old girl who was abducted while walking home from her bus stop in Springfield on Wednesday afternoon.
State police issued an Amber Alert for Charlotte Moccia after Julius Kennedy reported witnessing a stranger pull the young girl into his car.
“I heard a holler, a yell, ‘Help! Help!” he recalled.
Maggie Kenney, who also witnessed a man snatch Moccia, was standing on her porch as the horrifying incident played out on Amherst Street.
“When he got out of the car and grabbed her, I was on the porch,” Kenney said. “I started yelling, ‘Call the cops!'”
Kenney says Moccia put up a fight at the man pushed her into a blue Honda Civic.
“She was saying, ‘Stop! Put me down! Stop! Put me down,'” Kenney recalled.
Authorities released descriptions of the suspect along with his car and soon State Police Lt. Charles Murray said they got calls from multiple motorists who noticed the vehicle on the Mass. Pike.
“We’re eternally grateful to the motorist who paid attention to the Amber Alert and called and reported seeing the vehicle. There were a number of those calls,” he said. “They made this rescue possible.”
Troopers stopped the suspect car on the Massachusetts Turnpike and located Moccia inside, State Police Lt. Bob Ackerman added. He was taken out at gunpoint.
“It all happened so fast,” he said, “but I distinctly recall the other trooper on the other side of the vehicle taking her out of the car and once I saw her in his hands, I knew she was safe.”
Ackerman commended Moccia’s bravery through the terrifying incident.
“She’s an amazing little girl. I couldn’t believe how she kept it all together and just speaking with us, it’s amazing,” he said. “I can’t believe how strong she was dealing with this.”
Murray continued, “We are grateful that we had an opportunity to find and rescue her before something even worse happened.”
Moccia’s rescuers are hoping she can start to move forward and heal.
“We hope that she will overcome the memory of this terrible incident and have a long and happy, productive life,” Murray said.
Troopers arrested Miguel Rodriguez, 24, in connection with Moccia’s kidnapping. He faced a judge Thursday morning in Springfield District Court and was ordered held without bail.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said justice will be served.
“I can’t say what I want to say about this individual and/or individuals,” he said. “That swift justice comes their way and they no longer will be on anybody’s streets.”
In a statement, Charlotte’s parents Carl and Denise said, “The outpouring of love and support, near and far, is overwhelming. We are eternally grateful.”
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