"She jumped from the truck, and she pulled her sister out of the truck so they could escape and be safe," Luis Mena told local news station WSMV of his granddaughter Amy
A 7-year-old girl saved her younger sister after their grandfather’s truck she was in was carjacked on the way home from picking them up from a Nashville daycare center on Wednesday afternoon.
According to a media release from the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), convicted felon Elijah Malik McDowell, who was on probation out of Rutherford County, had evaded police after he previously carjacked a black Dodge Charger by holding the 35-year-old victim at gunpoint near the Super 8 Motel on Murfreesboro Pike.
McDowell, 27, abandoned the vehicle and gun after a spike strip deflated the car’s tires and caused the suspect to crash on the right side of the I-440, MNPD said.
From there, local news station WSMV reported, McDowell ran to a nearby residential area where he then tried to carjack grandfather Luis Mena’s truck after he had picked up his granddaughters Stephanie, 3, and Amy, 7, from daycare.
“We started fighting,” Mena told WSMV after McDowell, who he said was wearing a ski mask, had opened the door to the driver’s side of the truck and tried to force Mena out of the vehicle. “But my T-shirt got all broken. He grabbed me from my T-shirt and threw me to the ground.”
Mena lost consciousness as a result and McDowell took off in the truck, with Stephanie and Amy still in the back seat.
“What made me conscious again was when one of my little kids cried,” Mena said, per WSMV. “That was my biggest worry — not only my truck getting stolen, but with my girls in it.”
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
However, it turned out the cry that Mena heard came from Stephanie, who was nearby, as she and her sister had managed to get out of the truck before McDowell fled the scene in the stolen vehicle.
“I was fighting with this guy,” Mena said before he recounted Amy's brave actions. “She jumped from the truck, and she pulled her sister out of the truck so they could escape and be safe.”
“The materialistic things come and go. But my girls don’t,” Mena added.
MNPD said in the media release that detectives from the Specialized Investigations Division’s Neighborhood Safety Unit, who were already in pursuit of McDowell, had tracked down the stolen Toyota Tundra pickup truck to Sadler Avenue. There, the suspect ditched the vehicle and ran into the woods and onto the railroad tracks, where a police canine team apprehended McDowell.
MNPD said McDowell was treated at a hospital for dog bites to his foot and was later charged on Thursday morning with the following: two counts of carjacking, two counts of felony evading arrest, unlawful gun possession by a convicted felon, gun use during the commission of a violent felony, possessing a “Glock switch” that makes a gun fully automatic, aggravated assault for driving at the two children, reckless driving, resisting arrest and driving on a revoked license.
McDowell’s bond was set at $211,000 by a judicial commissioner, per the media release. WSMV reported that McDowell was previously convicted for aggravated assault and narcotics charges.
MNPD did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.