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Tuesday
Oct052010

Amber Alert and Sharp-Eyed Citizen Help Save Missing Girl in California

Photo Courtesy -- AmberAlert.Utah.gov(FRESNO, Calif.) -- Thanks to an Amber Alert and a quick-thinking citizen, an 8-year-old California girl was rescued Tuesday.

Elisa Cardenas was playing with friends outside her house in Fresno, Calif. early Monday evening, when police say Gregorio Gonzales tried to lure the girls into a pickup truck.

The children ran, but Gonzales allegedly grabbed Elisa and sped away.  Her mother chased after the truck, but it was too late.

A statewide Amber Alert was issued, and more than 100 officers immediately went on the hunt, searching for the truck, which was captured on surveillance video at a nearby intersection.

Then, early Tuesday morning, a man named Victor Perez spotted the truck.  He jumped into his car and began following it.  When he saw Elisa's head in the window, he acted boldly.

"I was yelling at him and kept cutting him off," said Perez.  "He was hiding her, pushing her down."

Investigators say Gonzales shoved Elisa out of the truck and onto the street. As Gonzales fled, Perez called the police.

Elisa was taken to a local hospital, where she was reunited with her mother -- shaken and scared, but alive.

"I gotta tell ya, it was a highlight of my career to see Elisa and her mom reunite in that hospital room," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

A few hours later, police arrested Gonzales, a 24-year-old known gang member who was already on felony probation.  Authorities say Gonzales had also exposed himself to two other young girls earlier that day.

Gonzales allegedly held Elisa for 11 hours.  He is being charged with kidnapping and sexual assault.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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