Philadelphia police announced today they had arrested a suspect in an attempted child abduction that was caught on tape, and that the suspect had turned himself in because he couldn't "walk, talk or breathe" after the video aired yesterday on local media and ABC News.
Carlos Figueroa-Fagot of Philadelphia will be charged with attempted kidnapping, indecent assault and unlawful restraint among other crimes in connection with a Tuesday incident in which a 10-year-old girl was attacked on a South Philadelphia street. He has not yet entered a plea.
Capt. John Darby of the Special Victims Unit said that Figueroa-Fagot had turned himself in at midnight Wednesday after local media and the ABC News network aired the video Wednesday evening. "He felt that he could not walk, talk or breathe with that out there on the street. He made himself available to us last night."
Mayor Michael Nutter credited the police, public and the media for helping pressure the suspect to come forward. According to police, tips began pouring in as soon as the video was made public.
As seen in the video, a 10-year-old girl and her 2-year-old brother were walking back from buying sweets in South Philadelphia on Tuesday when a man suddenly came from behind and tried to make off with the terrified girl.
He placed his hand over her mouth lifted her from the ground and, as the girl's brother screamed, the man stumbled as he tried to drag the girl towards his car. After struggling for a brief period, the man eventually gave up and fled the scene.
Capt. Darby said the victim had been a "real trooper since the incident," and had credited her little brother's scream with saving her.
"It's a sick individual to do something like that," Mayor Nutter said at a press conference yesterday. "I want this creep off our streets immediately."
"Our children must be able to walk around their own neighborhood without lowlifes like this individual coming up and grabbing them, touching them, or doing anything else. It's completely unacceptable, totally outrageous, we need the public's help," Nutter said.
Nutter offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the failed kidnapper.
The Philadelphia Police Department has been a pioneer in the use of YouTube and social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to help solve crimes. Their Facebook page has more hits than any law enforcement page except the FBI page. Since last February they have used the wide distribution of video and social media to catch 87 suspects, including alleged murderers and rapists.
Two unrelated murder cases were solved by surveillance tape from one corner store. In one case, the suspect's own mother turned him in after seeing her son one on tape. In the other, a rape and murder was solved when a neighbor recognized the man who was following the victim.
When Bas Slabbers was attacked on a city bus in late May, no one on the bus would assist him or call 911. After police released video of the attack via social media, however, they got several tips about the identity of the attacker and made an arrest. Witnesses apparently didn't want to risk getting involved while the crime was occurring on the bus, but were willing to identify the attacker electronically.