Police have rescued an 11-year-old who was abducted by a man reportedly suffering from mental health issues shortly after she got off a school bus in Massachusetts, according to officials.
Charlotte Moccia got off the bus at about 1.30pm when she was allegedly forced into the car of 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, whose family said suffered from schizophrenia and paranoia.
“She was screaming,” Springfield police commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told a local news outlet, “got in definitely unwillingly, and they left the area.”
Officials were later alerted by motorists that the car was driving down the Massachusetts Turnpike on Wednesday evening after an Amber Alert was issued for the missing child.
Mr Rodriguez was stopped and removed from the car at gunpoint as the little girl was discovered sitting in the back seat. Officials said a knife was visible in the car when it was discovered near Brimfield, Massachusetts.
State Police Lieutenant Bob Ackerman described the 11-year-old as “an amazing little girl” in an interview with ABC News.
“I can’t believe how strong she was dealing with this”, he added.
The young victim was found without any apparent injuries and reportedly taken to a local hospital for a precautionary evaluation.
Mr Rodriguez was meanwhile detained by authorities, officials said, though it remains unclear what specific charges he faces and whether he is still in police custody. Springfield police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
His family has since apologised for the incident in an interview with the local news site MassLive, noting Mr Rodriguez’s mental health issues and saying they first heard about the abduction on the news.
“We knew that sooner or later he was going to do something of this nature,” said Henry Rodriguez, the father of the kidnapping suspect. “But not something this crazy.”
“We feel really bad, you know, as parents. We have kids ourselves,” he added. “We feel relieved that the girl was found safe and sound. We were relieved that nothing happened to that little girl and that she is back with her family. We are grateful she’s all right.”