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Police: Assault charges planned in girl's abduction

Authorities praise 9-year-old who described suspect

David Montiel Cruz will be arraigned Wednesday, authorities said.
David Montiel Cruz will be arraigned Wednesday, authorities said.

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SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- The suspect in the abduction of a 9-year-old girl will face charges of kidnapping, felony assault and sexual assault, authorities said Monday.

"We have had a chance to re-interview the young lady. She's 9 years old, and it's certainly difficult to do that under these circumstances. But there is enough information to charge that," San Jose Police Chief Bill Lansdowne told CNN.

The suspect was identified as David Montiel Cruz, 24. Lansdowne said a second person might have been involved in the abduction, but "we have not confirmed that."

"We're very sure that the suspect we do have in custody is the primary suspect who did the actual kidnapping," he said.

San Jose Police Sgt. Steve Dixon said the suspect "was alone at the time that we arrested him."

Cruz is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.

The girl was found alive late Sunday when she walked into a convenience store in East Palo Alto about 30 miles from her home, where she had been snatched Friday after coming home from school. The incident was captured on a neighbor's surveillance camera.

Lansdowne said it was unclear whether the suspect and the girl's family have relations, but they have friends in common. The suspect was arrested Monday a few blocks from the family's home.

"During the course of the arrest, he did struggle with the officers," Lansdowne said earlier. "He was bitten by a police dog and assaulted the officers, kicked them several times. He was taken to the hospital, treated and released."

Deputy Chief Rob Davis, the lead investigator on the case, told CNN late Monday that Cruz had started cooperating with investigators who were questioning him about the girl.

Mother gives thanks

The girl's mother, Rosalie Tamayo, joined police for an afternoon news conference, where she tearfully gave thanks in Spanish to everyone who assisted or prayed for the little girl's safe return.

"What it feels like to lose a child, I think, you feel like you're going to die," she said, her face marked by bruises from fighting with her daughter's abductor. "That's why all I can say is thanks to all of you who helped me, supported me and prayed, and thank God my daughter is with me."

Tamayo had told authorities that she might have scratched the man and bit his fingers while fighting with him after she and her 15-year-old son returned home Friday afternoon.

Davis said the family's descriptions matched the suspect. He and Lansdowne credited the girl's descriptions in helping make the arrest.

"[She] is an extremely bright and articulate young woman, and she's also brave," Davis said. "She was able to give us enough detail. She was giving us enough detail to locate a location where we thought we might encounter a suspect."

San Jose police assigned more than 150 officers to the case after the girl disappeared, but the break came late Sunday, when the fourth-grader wandered into the Eastside Market in East Palo Alto.

"She was crying, scared, and I asked, 'How can I help you?' " store owner Isa Yasin recalled, adding that he saw no one drop her off near his store and that she did not discuss her ordeal.

Davis told CNN on Monday evening that investigators believe Cruz let the girl go.

"Based upon what we know right now, we believe that he released her and that she went in terrified into that market," he said, adding that they were still interviewing the girl. "But it looks like he actually left her there, deserted her there."

Earlier, Davis said investigators had collected evidence indicating "that it went beyond just a random act," though he said the abductor was apparently a stranger to the girl, her brother and her mother.

Monday afternoon, he said the crime appeared to have been "linked through the children."

"The victim has a friend who is related to somebody who knows the suspect," he said, "but we really don't want to say anything more than that."

Video captures incident

Authorities said they were considering the possibility that a second person might have been involved in the abduction, based on video from a neighbor's surveillance camera. In it, a second vehicle pulled up alongside the abductor's car, police said, and the two drivers might have spoken.

"There is a possibility, as you look at the videotape of this incident, that there might be another suspect. At this time, we have not confirmed that," Lansdowne said.

The surveillance tape showed the abductor drive up to the house and spend several minutes inside while no one was home. When the girl came home from school about 4 p.m., the man stayed inside about half an hour before coming back outside and backing his car into the garage.

A few minutes later, Tamayo and her 15-year-old-son son Pablo arrived. When the garage door stuck, Pablo crawled beneath and was attacked by the abductor. Hearing the commotion, the mother ran into the garage from the house, and the two fought with the man for about 10 minutes while the girl sat in his car.

The boy escaped and ran to a neighbor's home, but before anyone could be summoned, the tape shows the kidnapper at the wheel of a late-1980s or early 1990s four-door silver Honda Accord or similar vehicle tearing out of the driveway, taking out greenery and garbage cans from a neighbor's house, Dixon said.

-- CNN correspondent Thelma Gutierrez and producer Jamie McShane contributed to this report.

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