HAINES CITY (FOX 13) - A Haines City girl was nearly abducted Thursday morning, police say, but managed to escape, and police have arrested a suspect.
According to Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky, the 15-year-old, who attends Haines City High School, was walking to school around 6:45 a.m. That’s when she was attacked by a man.
The suspect followed her, jumped on her, and started to strangle her, police say. Police say the girl, who still had red marks around her neck, fought off her attacker and fled.
"Clearly the guy had his hands around her neck. That's how he got her to the ground," said Chief Elensky. "This is as real as it gets."
Police were searching for the suspect, who is described as 20 years old with a thin build, clean-cut, and about 6-feet-tall. Detectives realized Tristen Calixe, 22, fit the description of the suspect and was picked out of a lineup.
"I don't call him a man; I call him a coward," Chief Elensky added.
Calixe had just been released from jail after being charged in a similar crime in the attack of a 14-year-old who was walking along a nature path with her 11-year-old brother in 2014. Police say in that case, he punched the girl in the face.
Calixe was arrested at his home and is being questioned.
The young victim was "traumatized," the chief added, but otherwise OK.