MIAMI – Miami police arrested a 32-year-old North Miami man over the weekend after they accused him of kidnapping a 6-year-old girl in the city’s Little Haiti neighborhood.
But authorities said Leonardo Venegas wouldn’t get far: the “brave” little girl fought back.
According to an arrest report, the victim had just finished playing with her siblings just before 8 p.m. Thursday when Venegas pulled up to her apartment building, in the 6500 block of Northeast Second Avenue in his Range Rover Velar, got out and grabbed her arm as she sat on the rear steps.
Police said after the girl fought back and pulled away from Venegas, he picked her up and “began to carry her away.”
That’s when authorities said she bit him on the arm so hard it caused him to drop her.
“I bit him,” 6-year-old Lyric later told Local 10 News.
According to the arrest report, Venegas slapped the girl and ran away. The little girl ran away too, police said, in order to tell her aunt what had happened.
“He picked me up and then he slapped me,” Lyric said. “Then he threw me on the floor and started running.”
Officer Kiara Delva, a Miami Police Department spokesperson, called the girl “extremely brave.”
“She fought for her safety, which ultimately saved her from a potentially very dangerous situation,” Delva said. “We’re thankful that she did enough to save her life.”
Lyric’s mother said she taught her child to always fight back.
“You have to teach your kids not to speak to strangers and protect themselves even when you’re not around,” Tisha McGill said.
Police said Venegas was seen on CCTV footage entering the complex.
Miami police robbery detectives later located and arrested Venegas Saturday on charges of kidnapping and child abuse.
Under questioning, Venegas “claimed that he was there looking for houses to buy in the complex even though the complex is HUD housing and there are no for sale signs,” the report states.
Police said Venegas also identified himself as the person in the CCTV footage and said he “ran when he heard someone screaming,” but invoked his right to an attorney when questioned further about his interaction with the victim.
Delva said detectives are concerned that there may be other victims.
“We’re quite concerned because obviously this subject is quite brazen that he would do something like this in a community where there’s many other people around that could have saw exactly what occurred,” she said. “We’re hoping that anybody in the community that may have been a victim to being assaulted by this particular suspect comes forward and reports it to the police so they can continue their investigation.”
Venegas was being held without bond in the Metro West Detention Center on both criminal charges, as well as an immigration hold, according to jail records.
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.