Quick-thinking Massachusetts police used a highway construction site to stop the vehicle of a suspected kidnapper and rescue an 11-year-old girl.
Charlotte Moccia, of Springfield, was rescued Wednesday night after she was apparently abducted after getting off the school bus earlier that afternoon. She was unharmed.
The girl was forced into a dark blue Honda around 1:26 p.m., allegedly by Miguel Rodriguez, "not long after she got off her school bus," according to Massachusetts State Police.
Maggie Kenney, a neighbor, witnessed the ordeal.
"He just grabbed her and threw her in the back seat," Kenney told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB. "He was screaming. She was saying, 'Stop, put me down, stop, put me down.'"
Rodriguez allegedly used a knife and threatened to kill her if she screamed or tried to escape, according to his arrest warrant.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert and released photos of Charlotte and the car they said was used in the abduction. Around 7:15 p.m., state police began receiving 911 calls from motorists on the Massachusetts Turnpike who'd spotted the car near Brimfield, about 30 minutes from Springfield.
Acting quickly, officers used a road construction site along the turnpike to funnel traffic into one lane, slowing traffic to a crawl.
When they spotted the suspect's car, they stopped the vehicle and found Charlotte in the backseat, with the 24-year-old Rodriguez in the driver's seat and a knife visible in the pocket of the door, police said.
One officer got Charlotte out of the car while two others removed Rodriguez at gunpoint.
"She's an amazing little girl," said State Police Lt. Bob Ackerman. "I can't believe how strong she was dealing with this."
Charlotte was taken to a hospital for a precautionary evaluation, authorities said.
"I was just crying and thanking God that that little girl is finally found," Kenney said.
A judge denied Rodriguez bail on Thursday.
"We're eternally grateful to the motorists that paid attention to the Amber Alert and called and reported seeing the vehicle," said Lt. Charles Murray. "There were a number of those calls and they made this rescue possible."
Two days before the kidnapping, the father of another girl in the area said the same car approached his daughter and tried to get her to come inside the vehicle, according to an arrest warrant. She called her father, who came and picked her up and took a picture of the license plate on the car, which was the same one used in Charlotte's abduction.