LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 13-year-old girl was honored Thursday for thwarting a would-be kidnapping last year and saving a 4-year-old from certain harm.
Officials from law enforcement including LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and LA County Sheriff Lee Baca — as well as State Attorney General Kamala Harris — were on hand to honor Destiny Lopez.
She even got a standing ovation.
Lopez spoke to KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen about what led to her being lauded.
September 15th of last year, Destiny was watching over a few kids in the courtyard of her apartment complex when a man grabbed a 4-year-old girl and tried to drag the child away.
Destiny was not about to let that happen.
“My mom always told me to – if you see someone in danger to help out,” says Lopez
While she is only 4 feet 7 inches tall, Lopez blocked the mans path, pushed him to the ground and grabbed the child and took her to safety. The suspect was eventually apprehended.
Harris presented Lopez with an award for bravery and valor on Thursday.
Erin Runnion — who’s daughter Samantha made headlines after she was abducted and murdered — was at the award ceremony, as well.
“I was in tears when I heard Destiny’s story. To have a young girl to have the courage to intervene in the midst of an abduction is inspiring and encouraging.” said Runnion.
At first, Destiny’s mother — Juanita Gariabaldo — said she had mixed feelings about her daughter taking matters into her own hands.
“Actually I was a little upset because not just the other little girl was in danger but she could’ve endangered herself. I was upset but then I realized that she saved the little girl, I was a little bit more happier,” said Gariabaldo.
Nguyen asked whether Lopez thought she deserved to be called a hero. The shy soft spoken teen got a little uncomfortable, he reported.
But she lit up when asked what she wants to be when she grows up.
“I asked my mom if she could sign me up for the Explorer program and she said yeah,” said Lopez.