Florida mom, off-duty deputy thwart child’s attempted kidnapping

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office officials are crediting a Florida mother’s quick reaction in saving her 13-year-old daughter from an attempted stranger abduction in a Dollar General store Tuesday.

At approximately 11:42 a.m. Tuesday, deputies received a call to the store located at 2560 N. Trucks Ave. Dispatch was told that the caller could hear screaming in the store, then learned that there was an attempted child abduction taking place.

According to a press release from the CCSO, the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Craig Leslie Bonello, was in the store and suddenly grabbed a 13-year-old girl who was seen shopping with her mother. As Bonello tried to leave the store dragging the girl, her mother caught up to him and grabbed on to her daughter.

“A tug-of-war” occurred between the mother and Bonello until he finally released his grip on the girl and ran out the front door of the store.

The mother and store manager followed him out of the store and alerted an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who had just arrived at the store. Deputy Jonathan Behnen was returning home from court and had stopped at the store for supplies.

The release said Behnen pulled his patrol car in front of Bonello’s vehicle, preventing his escape from the parking lot. Behnen then ordered him to exit his vehicle at gunpoint. Initially, Bonello is said to have not complied with Behnen’s orders, but was taken into custody without further incident.

Reportedly, the mother and daughter were shaken up, but uninjured in the failed abduction.

Bonello was booked into the Citrus County Jail and charged with one count of child abuse and one count of kidnapping with intent to commit/commission any felony. According to the arrest affidavit, he would not tell officers what he intended to do if he had successfully taken the girl.

Read the arrest affidavit here: bonello_c 19779_redacted

The names of the mother and child were not released by law enforcement because of the charges.

Below is the video released by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office: