HOUSTON -- Police said a stepfather helped a 12-year-old girl escape from a would-be-kidnapper in east Houston. It happened just before 3:30 p.m. on Thursday near 71st and Sherman.
Jasmine Vasquez was walking home from nearby Edison Middle School when she said a stranger pulled up to her.
Vasquez said the man first tried to lure her into his car. According to her, he then got out of the car and began chasing her down the street.
“He was running toward me from the back,” Vasquez said. “I was scared.”
Vasquez said she was relieved to see her stepfather in the distance. He had been waiting to pick her up from school.
“He was chasing her," said stepfather Mike. "I already knew he was going to grab her.”
The would-be-kidnapper started running in the opposite direction. Mike chased the man over several fences and through yards, but he was able to escape.
Mike said he was relieved that his stepdaughter was okay. He then called her mother who was at a laundromat.
“My heart dropped. I couldn’t do nothing. I was over there,” said mother Adrianna Garcia.
Houston police descended on the neighborhood and set up a perimeter. Investigators used canine units to search for the man, but by then, he was already gone.
Police credited the girl’s stepfather for jumping into action and saving the day.
“[She’s] very very lucky that he was at the right place at the right time. God knows what would’ve happened if he hadn’t got there,” said Officer Adrian Lopez with Houston Police.
Neighbors said they have little trust in anybody because of a halfway house in their community.
“It makes you want to buy a gun and walk around the streets with a gun,” said neighbor Joy Rojo.
Police said several people at the halfway house witnessed the would-be-kidnapper running away. However, the manager and a resident reportedly denied knowing who the man was.
Neighbors say that doesn’t give them any comfort.
“How does it feel when the kids have to go up and down to their schools, and we have people like that on our block,” said neighbor Nelda Chacon.
Police say there is information on a possible suspect connected to the attempted kidnapping. That person is not in custody.
Investigators are also following up on several other leads.