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How watching 'SVU' helped this 11-year-old identify suspected kidnapper

A Florida girl bravely fought off an attempted kidnapping caught on video — and a popular toy she was holding helped police identify the suspect.
/ Source: TODAY

Olivia Benson would be proud.

A brave 11-year-old Florida girl fought off an attempted kidnapping at a bus stop, police said, and a move she said she learned from watching one of her favorite crime shows helped cops find the suspected attacker just hours later.

"I just feel proud of myself," the girl, identified only by her first name, Alyssa, told Kerry Sanders on TODAY Thursday.

Police have released home surveillance video of the frightening scene, which occurred at a school bus stop around 7 a.m. on Tuesday. A white vehicle is seen driving up to a nearby corner and then a man jumps out and starts to charge at Alyssa, who was waiting for her school bus.

"The man got out of his vehicle holding a knife, came towards me and I tried to run, but he caught me," she said.

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The man is seen trying to drag her back toward the car, but she fights back and both fall to the ground. The man then fled to the vehicle and sped away.

Deputies were able to find the suspect just hours later, and said an unexpected clue left behind by Alyssa helped identify him.

She had been mixing blue paint with homemade slime while waiting for the bus, and she made sure to get some of it on the man's arms when he attacked her. She says she knew to mark the man with the slime from watching "Law & Order: SVU" with her mother.

"I knew that that might be better evidence if the cops do find him," she said.

"The victim at the time of the attempted abduction was playing with blue slime," Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a news conference Wednesday. "The suspect, when we caught him, had blue slime all over his own arms."

Later Thursday, after her appearance on TODAY, Alyssa's "SVU" comment caught the attention of one notable crimefighter — Olivia Benson herself, actor Mariska Hargitay.

Hargitay wrote on Instagram she was "honored" to have her show mentioned in Alyssa's story.

"Alyssa, first and most important, I am so relieved and grateful to know that you are safe," Hargitay wrote. "And I am so honored to be part of your incredible story. You are one BRAVE, Strong and Smart young woman."

Jared Paul Stanga, 30, has been charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13 and aggravated assault and battery and is being held on just over $1.5 million bond. A lawyer for Stanga declined comment to NBC News.

"I'm not so sure if she actually comprehends what could have happened," Simmons said. "She fought like a trooper."

Alyssa was asked what Mariska Hargitay's iconic character on "SVU" would think about her effort.

"Probably, you're brave and good job!" she said.