SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A 9-year-old girl was kidnapped Friday afternoon by a man who was hiding in her family's San Jose home, and beat her mother and older brother before taking off with her in his car, police said.
An AMBER Alert has been issued in California and Nevada, asking people to be on the lookout for the girl and her abductor.
Details of the abduction remained sketchy, but it appeared as if the intruder broke into the home through a window and then fled with the child, Janette Tamayo, said Katherine Unger, a San Jose police spokeswoman.
Unger said that either before or after struggling with Janette's mother and brother, the suspect threw the girl into the backseat of a car that he had previously parked in the family's garage and shielded behind the closed garage door. The vehicle was apparently backed into the garage, facilitating a quick escape, she said.
"God forbid we don't find this girl tonight," Unger said. "We are so fearful that something bad could happen to her."
Unger said Janette's mother and 13-year-old brother told authorities they had never seen the man before and that officers believe he was a stranger to them. "These things are pretty rare, a random kidnapping," she said.
After the girl's bleeding and distraught mother called 911 from a neighbor's home at about 4:30 p.m., police fanned out over the South San Jose neighborhood looking for the girl and her abductor.
The California Highway Patrol issued a statewide Amber Alert at 7:30 p.m. alerting motorists to be on the lookout for a tan or silver sedan that witnesses reported seeing fleeing from the area.
According to Unger, Janette, a fourth-grader with long brown hair streaked with blonde, usually spent afternoons with a baby sitter. It was not clear whether the girl was home alone when the man broke in, but her mother and brother said she was already there when they were attacked by the suspect after arriving home together, she said.
The mother was taken to an area hospital for her injuries, which included wounds to her face and "massive head injuries," but her condition was not known, Unger said. The suspect also attempted to choke the boy with such force he told authorities it felt as if "the guy was trying to break his neck," Unger said.
"It was a pretty brutal fight, I'll tell you that," she said.
Authorities described the suspect as short and in his early 20s. They said he had a deep scratch on his face from his struggle with Janette's mother.
Since the suspect also spoke Spanish, "our natural fear is that he is taking off to Mexico," Unger said.
If you think you see Jannette or her abductor, call 911 right away and tell police.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.