TAMPA (FOX 13) - A mother and young daughter were carjacked at knife point Wednesday morning as they were getting ready to drive to school.
It happened on Beach Street West in Tampa. The suspect and the car have yet to be found.
"This was just a mom doing something very normal, there is nothing we would advise her to differently," said Tampa Police Spokesperson Steve Hegarty.
It was 7:30 a.m. The woman's 8-year-old girl was in the back seat. She was at the driver's side door. But, a criminal was lurking close by.
"A man came up, he had a knife, he threatened the mom with the knife, said I'm taking your car," Hegarty said. "She screamed to her daughter in the back seat, get out of the car, get out of the car."
The suspect hit the gas on their green Hyundai Santa Fe. Little did neighbor Marquita Zaldivar know, she was about to be in the middle of a getaway.
"I got to the stop sign right here and I heard someone say help, help," Zaldivar said. "When I look back again, he's behind me, but on the left. He was going pedal to the floor down this street, going towards Dale Mabry."
Zaldivar got her car out of the way. It wasn't until she returned home a few minutes later that she learned that speeding car had just been stolen from her neighbor.
"You couldn't see anything. It happened so quick, there was no time to see anything," Zaldivar said. "It could've been me. I am so glad and thankful it wasn't. I don't know what I would have done."
It was a "crime of opportunity." That's how Hegarty sees this carjacking, happening in a time and place that's generally not the norm.
"There hasn't been any rhyme or reason that we've been able to determine at this point. It's not like it was a robbery two blocks away and he needed to get away," Hegarty said.
Police say the mother and daughter did everything right. Now, the focus is on finding the guy who did everything wrong.
"She's a brave little girl," Zaldivar said. "It could have easily turned another way."
Both the mother and daughter are safe, though very shaken up. The mother, who we didn't identify for her safety told us, "love your families."
Police are searching for that 2007 green Hyundai Santa Fe. The suspect is described as a black male in his 30's, thin and about 6 feet tall.