Wichita Falls police say the actions of 11-year-old TJ Smith helped save a 7-year-old girl from being sexually assaulted last Saturday afternoon.
When Raeshawn Perez, 26, grabbed the girl as she was playing outside, TJ was watching and figured out that something wasn’t right.
“She was riding her scooter and he picked her up and started walking, and I chased after him,” he told reporters.
The boy alerted James Ware, an adult neighbor. As Ware ran inside to get his keys, TJ kept following Perez, who was headed to a vacant house nearby.
Ware said that when he arrived, Perez looked like he was going to put the girl through a window. According to the Times Record News, Ware and another adult witness were able to tackle Perez when he tried to run.
Wichita Falls police said Perez told them he was planning to have sex with the girl. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping and is being held in the county jail.
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana presented TJ Smith with a certificate of appreciation Thursday.
“One of our goals is to have our citizens assist us in preventing crime, looking out for each other and being good neighbors,” Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego said. “We certainly don’t want them to put themselves at risk, but in this situation, I think the bravery of this young little boy and the bravery of the two other individuals was unique and necessary and I don’t think they thought twice about it.”