Here at The Root, we celebrate Black excellence—a thing that is often equated with Black entrepreneurship and financial success, even though it’s much more than that. Today we shout out Black excellence in the form of heroism.
Last Sunday, a 10-year-old girl was abducted from her home in New Iberia, Louisiana. An Amber Alert was issued before long and on Monday morning, the girl and her abductor were discovered by two sanitation workers who not only called the police but blocked the kidnapper from escaping.
From NBC News:
New Iberia police issued an Amber Alert for her and an arrest warrant for her alleged abductor, who police identified as Michael Sereal. Authorities said Sereal was last seen driving a silver Nissan Altima.
Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, who work for Pelican Waste & Debris, said they had just started their route on Monday morning when they noticed a silver Nissan parked in the middle of a field in St. Martin Parish
Merrick said he immediately recognized the car from the Amber Alert.
“I told the guy who rides with me, that’s the car. I pulled forward and backed up to block the entrance [to the field] and then called 911,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Merrick told NBC that Antoine recognized that the man in the car was indeed the suspect from the Amber Alert once Sereal opened the vehicle door.
The police reportedly arrived within one minute of being called. In a Facebook Live video captured by Merrick, Sereal can be heard shouting, “Why are you doing this to me?” to police while being taken into custody.
The unidentified kidnapping victim was safely reunited with her family. According to the police department, Sereal was an acquaintance of one of the girl’s family members and, according to jail records, he is now charged with aggravated kidnapping and failure to register as a sex offender. The New Iberia sex offender database confirmed that Sereal had been previously convicted of “carnal knowledge of a juvenile,” NBC reports.
“I didn’t want anything to happen to her,” said Merrick, who is a 39-year-old father and U.S. Navy veteran. “We’re all from the same town. We’re a big community. It might be a small town, but we’re a close-knit community so I had to do what I had to do for my community.”
So not all heroes wear capes and sometimes Black excellence saves lives. Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, we salute you.