Frightening video footage from Providence, Rhode Island, shows a man grabbing a nine-year-old student shortly after she exited her school bus and forcing her into his vehicle, reported WPRI 12.
The man, who has now been identified as Luis Martinez-Romero, 34, reportedly abducted the young girl on Wednesday, Oct. 6, just minutes from her home. Martinez-Romero has been charged with kidnapping a minor and sexual assault of a minor, according to Providence police.
Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh T. Clements, Jr., stated that the victim was reported missing after 3 p.m., and then found in the same area an hour later. Police and detectives were able to identify and secure an arrest warrant for the suspect within 24 hours of the girl’s return, Clements added.
“It happened within seconds, milliseconds, where she innocently stepped off a bus, was walking home and was scooped up,” Clements told ProvidenceJournal.com.
Clements added that Martinez-Romero has no connection to the girl or her family, which is extremely rare in child assault cases.
Peg Langhammer, the executive director of Day One Rhode Island, an organization that advocates for victims of sexual violence, told ProvidenceJournal.com that the child’s immediate communication and detailed description of the incident to authorities was invaluable in helping them locate and apprehend the suspect quickly.
“What we say to parents and guardians [is that] we can never totally protect our kids, but what we can do, which is great protection, is talk with them about these issues at a very young age,” Langhammer added. “It’s almost never too early to talk with them about safety, to talk with them about what feels uncomfortable and how important it is that they are able to discuss anything that happens to them.”