Deputy describes helping stop kidnapping suspect
INVERNESS (FOX 13) - The deputy who helped stop and capture a kidnapping suspect while off-duty at a Citrus County Dollar General store spoke to reporters Wednesday about the incident.
Deputy John Behnen said he was just arriving at the Dollar General as the suspect was trying to escape.
"I could hear [the mother] screaming, as I backed up my patrol car, 'he tried to take my child!'" Deputy Behnen recalled.
In the moment, he said he though the man running from the store was a shoplifter, adding he knew shoplifting from that store was common. What he would later learn was far more shocking.
The man running from the store was Craig Bonello, 30, of Hernando County. Surveillance video shows he had grabbed a teen inside the store and tried to take her away from her mother, who fought him until he ran from the store.
That's when he came face-to-face with Deputy Behnan.
Behnan said he was able to box in Bonello and prevent him from getting away.
"At that point, I withdrew my firearm. I pointed it at him. He continued to back up just a little bit and went to go forward, and I started banging on the glass with the firearm. It's the only thing I had in my possession to break the glass," Behnan explained.
Bonello eventually stopped, and Behnan pulled him out of the vehicle and arrested him. Sheriff Jeff Dawsy called the incident "unnerving," adding the mother's actions were heroic.
"I thought the mom was stellar in this case. She went there and I think she was as much, if not more, of a part of saving this young person," the sheriff said, adding Bonello "was getting his butt kicked by Mom."
The mother said she did not know Bonello, but he is no stranger to law enforcement. He has six prior arrests for offenses dating back to 2009, including firing a gun into a building, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assaulting an emergency responder. Just three weeks ago, was found not competent to stand trial for a trespassing charge from February.
Deputies also said he tried to grab a 13-year-old on Trucks Avenue in Hernando County a day earlier. The sheriff said Bonello told detectives he has tried to do this in the past. Investigators searched his house but found no evidence to back up that claim.
A Citrus County judge ordered Bonello be held without bond Wednesday. In court, Bonello spoke only briefly, answering the judge's questions and explaining that he's lived in Inverness for 20 years.
The judge ultimately requested another mental evaluation for Bonello and ordered that he be held in jail, at least for now.
"I'm a little concerned because obviously he's had mental problems in the past and he may have been Baker Acted in the past, and now things have gotten a bit worse," the judge offered.