It’s been nearly a decade since Victor Perez made a split second decision.
“I think that’s the truck. I checked if I had the keys to my truck. I’m going after him,” he said Friday.
Perez was recalling the moment which changed the course of the lives of everyone involved.
In October 2010 a massive search for an 8-year-old girl who was abducted while playing outside with friends was underway.
“We are pleading with the public to provide us any information,” Chief Jerry Dyer said at the time.
An Amber Alert was issued and Perez spotted the vehicle described. He said he tailed the suspect, 24-year-old Gregorio Gonzalez, trying to stop him until finally cutting him off.
“That’s when the little girl showed her face. That’s when I knew this is real. This is happening,” Perez said.
Gonzalez left the girl with Perez and took off.
“I told her to make her feel better, ‘Hey everyone is looking for you,'” he said.
The suspect was soon taken into custody and charged with kidnapping and rape of a minor.
This week Gonzalez reached a plea deal, which spared him from life in prison without parole. But Perez said it also spared the girl and her family from more pain.
“If it was my daughter I wouldn’t want her to be there testifying like ‘Hey this happened,’ and relive the whole thing again,” he said.
Perez said he hopes Gonzalez serves his time and can be rehabilitated.
He also said he still keeps in touch with the family of the young girl he once saved.
“Hopefully the girl lives through this and becomes a strong woman, because there are testimonies out there of really strong girls that have gone through so much. I hope that’s the case with this girl too,” he said.
Gonzalez will be back in court on November 5 when he’ll be formally sentenced.