Updated 1/07/11 – 8:58 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS 2) – A man and his Great Dane are being hailed as heroes Friday, after coming to the rescue of a teenage girl.
“Scooby” and his owner cornered a man who was trying to rape the girl on the street on the Northwest Side and held him there until police arrived.
As Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports, police say at 4:44 p.m. Thursday, the 14-year-old girl had just gotten off the No. 76 Diversey Avenue bus in the Logan Square neighborhood, and was walking up Whipple Street when a man began following her.
LISTEN: WBBM 780′s Mary Frances Bragiel Reports
The man, identified as Larry E. Smith, then allegedly ran towards the girl and lunged at her as she ran up a set of stairs to a building.
“He grabbed her and threw her to the ground,’’ Shakespeare District police Capt. Marc Buslik said.
Smith allegedly was trying to remove her clothing as he was removing his pants.
The captain said a neighbor who was walking his Great Dane “Scooby” nearby heard her struggling and screaming for help.
“They came running over and the offender took off. But the neighbor and the dog cornered him in the alley,’’ Buslik said.
The neighbor and the dog, who did not bite the suspect, held Smith until police arrived. The girl was not seriously injured.
As CBS 2′s Jim Williams reports, Scooby is popular with his neighbors in Logan Square.
“We know Scooby, everybody. You can’t miss him. He’s huge. He’s bigger than you,” Stacie Dumas said. “So often you hear horrible tragedies in the news, but you never really get to hear about the hero, the person that walks a dog every day and saves a little girl. That’s great.”
Tim Clancy, of Action K-9 – which trains dogs for law enforcement – said it’s understandable why Scooby would have paralyzed the suspect.
“The size of a Great Dane would just pretty much stop anybody in their tracks,” Clancy said.
The lesson, Clancy said, is that a dog is often more effective than a gun.
“With a dog, you cannot take a dog away from a person and utilize it against him, as to where you could take a gun away from a person and use it against him,” he said.
The irony of the case is that most of the people who live on the block said Scooby is a really a very sweet dog.
He plays with Joanne Panek’s much smaller Shih Tzu.
“She gives him a little kiss, he kisses her back and he sticks his paw out, like to pet her or to hold her, and she goes right down because he’s so big compared to her,” Panek said. But, “Oh, he’s gentle.”
The suspect, Larry Smith, 28, of the 3700 block of South Wells Street, was arrested less than a block away at 3015 W. George St., and later charged with one count of attempted criminal sexual assault.
In court Friday, Judge Jackie Portman ordered Smith held on $200,000 bond and set a preliminary hearing for Jan. 28, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.
Smith, who was not armed in the attack, was convicted in 2009 of public indecency, for which he spent nine days in Cook County Jail, police said.
In 2008, Smith was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, and in 2007 he was convicted of ticket scalping. In 2006 he had another drug conviction, according to Buslik.
It was not immediately known if Smith was being sought in any other similar incidents.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.