What started as an ordinary shopping trip turned into a terrifying ordeal for a mother and her 13-year old daughter on Tuesday. The two were at a Dollar General in Hernando, Florida when suddenly 30-year old Craig Bonello sprang out from behind a shelf, seized the daughter and attempted to drag her out the exit. The mother ran after them, grabbed her daughter by the arm and engaged in a ferocious tug-of-war with the attacker. Bonello initially refused to let go and continued to drag the girl towards the door along with her mother. The woman ultimately threw her body over her daughter in a desperate attempt to save her.
“In my 10 years on the road I have never seen anything like this,” Sgt. Craig Callahan said of the assault, which was caught on surveillance camera. “He truly intended to abduct this child right in front of everyone in the store.”
The mother eventually won.
“Bonello finally let go of the girl and ran out the front door of the Dollar General, just as off-duty Deputy Jonathan Behnen was getting out of his patrol car to enter the store,” read a statement from the Citrus county Sheriff’s department.
“The store manager, who is known to me … started yelling at me, ‘John, he just tried to kidnap a girl.’ ” Behnen said
“I knew something was going on. When he said kidnapping, I was in a little bit of shock there because it’s broad daylight.”
Behnen quickly got over the shock and parked his patrol car in front of Bonello’s vehicle as the attacker attempted to leave the parking lot. He then ordered him out of the car with his gun draw and finally took him into custody.
Bonello will be charged with kidnapping and child abuse. He has been charged with a string of other misdemeanor offenses since 2009. In February he was arrested for trespassing at an Inverness Walmart. A mental competency evaluation was ordered for that case but a hearing was never held.
Dollar General later issued a statement thanking Behnen for his action.
“The safety of our employees and customers is a top priority,” the statement said. “We are grateful that the victim and mother were not injured during this incident. We are also thankful for the actions of Deputy Jonathan Behnen, who was nearby when this occurred and reacted quickly to arrest the suspect.”