“He wouldn’t have let go of her if she wouldn’t have pulled and screamed like she did,” her father told ABC News.
The girl ran into the house after the incident, alerted her dad, who then drove off in his car to follow the man while calling the police, per ABC News.
“I chased him like he still had my kid,” the father said. “Definitely didn’t want him to be able to go snatch another kid.”
The police arrested 33-year-old Deric McPherson, and he’s being charged with abduction and inappropriate grabbing.
The family told ABC that they’re all shaken up still by the incident.
“It’s forever etched in our minds — that scream,” the girls’ mother said. “So it’ll always be with us.”
The father and mother told ABC that they’ve taught all four of their daughters how to fight off attackers, and they believe if it wasn’t for her smart action, the outcome would have been much different.
“I’m so proud of her. So proud of her,” said the mother. “Because as soon as she screamed, he let go. So obviously, you know, it does work.”
A child advocate at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Callahan Walsh, told ABC News that the girl’s response was the correct one.
“She did everything right in this case,” Walsh said. “She was kicking, screaming, pulling away. It’s exactly what we teach kids what to do when a would-be abductor tries to grab them. In fact, there’s a lot to learn from these attempted abductions.”
Walsh said that from analyzing attempted abductions for more than a decade, it’s been shown that more than 83% of the time, when a child prevents an abduction, its due to something they did proactively, like kicking and screaming.
“She’s the reason why she’s home safe tonight,” Walsh said.