Good work, TJ. Maybe someday you’ll be wearing a genuine police badge.
A courageous 11-year-old boy from Texas has been hailed as a hero after police say he helped rescue a seven-year-old girl from the clutches of a suspected sexual predator.
Raeshawn Perez, 26, was prevented by two witnesses from kidnapping the girl in Wichita Falls on Saturday.
But it has now emerged one of the Good Samaritans was quick-thinking 11-year-old TJ Smith.
Speaking to the local station KAUZ on Monday, TJ recounted how the girl was riding her scooter along Elizabeth Avenue when a man came up to her, picked her up and started walking away.
The boy, who was playing nearby, said initially he thought the stranger, later identified as Perez, was a relative of the girl, but when he realized that something was amiss, he gave chase.
‘If I was a little girl I would be scared too,’ the curly-haired hero said of the victim.
Along the way, TJ stopped by the home of his neighbor, Brad Ware, and told him of the abduction. Ware and his wife jumped in their car and went looking for the suspected child-snatcher.
With the help of neighbors, Ware was able to track down Perez to a vacant home on a nearby street. TJ was already there, waiting for him. He told Ware the suspect and the girl were in an alley behind the residence.
Ware’s wife yelled at Perez to let the girl go just as he was about to carry her into the empty house through a window. As Ware approached the suspect, the man released the seven-year-old and took off running, but the Good Samaritan was able to catch up with Perez.
Ware said he kicked the man in the groin, but Perez escaped his grasp and sprinted across the street. Undeterred, Ware went after him, tackled Perez to the ground and held him down until police arrived to arrest him.
Ware said when he asked Perez what he was doing with the girl, the 26-year-old allegedly replied that he just wanted to have sex with her.
Police later stated that Perez told them he was planning to let the child go after sexually assaulting her. Ware says if it were not for TJ’s valiant actions, this story might have had a very different ending.
The heroic 11-year-old was rewarded for his bravery with an honorary police member badge from the Wichita Falls Police Department, which he proudly wore to school on Monday.
Meanwhile, Perez has been charged with aggravated and public intoxication. He is being held at the Wichita County Jail on $50,000 bail.