A 16-year-old girl experienced one of the most terrifying moments of her life Monday as a man tried to lure her away near her bus stop in north Tampa.
The victim said she was walking down North 10th Street when a man, later identified by police as Cornelius Byrd, stepped out of an alley and inter her path; she said he wouldn't let her pass.
The teenager did not want to be identified, but did do an interview with us. She says said Byrd wanted her to come back to his house.
"I have never experienced something like this," she said. "It's very scary because I don't know what he could have done to me."
Investigators said Byrd even made a threatening hand gesture in the shape of a gun to her head.
The victim said she stayed calm and tried to lead him to her street, where she hoped a neighbor would see them and realize something was wrong. That's exactly what happened.
"Right when I hit the corner, one of my neighbors saw me and he was like, 'hey, you need to leave her alone!'" she said.
Police said Byrd let go of the victim, who ran home and told her mother what happened.
"For me, he shouldn't ever get out," the teenager's mother, Tomasa Munguia said through a translator. "For another girl other things may happen and he will come back more aggressive and angry."
Officers said Byrd continued to prey on other students waiting for the bus; investigators believe he sat down next to at least two elementary school girls waiting on the same street.
That's where police found him when they arrived to arrest him.
The ordeal left the neighborhood, where residents said Byrd had been "lurking" for a month or two, shaken.
"It's just scary," said Shaka Pierce, who lives next door to the victim. "I just felt bad for her. I just wanted him to be arrested. I don't want him around because I have my smaller kids also."
Byrd has a history of run-ins with police; he's been arrested at least 20 times and some of his charges include domestic battery, battery on an officer and burglary.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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