"He began to follow the vehicle and only saw one driver in the vehicle, didn't see a passenger. However, a short time later, he saw [a girl] stick her head up," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
"He was hiding her, pushing her down," said Perez.
Perez recognized the suspect's truck from news reports . He saw the driver, then, moments later, the girl's head popped up on the passenger side.
"He maneuvered his vehicle in front of the suspect vehicle, causing the vehicle to stop. The suspect actually opened the passenger door and pushed [the girl] out of the car onto the roadway," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. "[The 8-year-old] took the moment of opportunity, opened up the passenger door and jumped out," Dyer said.
"I thank God that he put me here to help out that little girl. That's for sure," said Perez.
A person who witnessed the escape came to the girl's rescue while the suspect took off.
California Highway Patrol officers spotted Gonzalez inside the truck behind an apartment complex. He was arrested without incident.
The victim was taken to Community Regional Medical Center where she was reunited with her mother.
Eyewitness News removed the victim's name and photo from the story after police said the girl was a victim of sexual assault.
Officials had issued a statewide Amber Alert after the girl was taken on Monday at about 8:30 p.m.
Witnesses said the man approached a group of children and tried to talk them into getting into his truck. He reportedly spoke in Spanish and told the girls to get in, saying he would buy them toys and coloring books.
One girl ran into the house and brought out another family member. At the same time, the man in the pickup got out and grabbed the 8-year-old, putting her into his truck and driving away.
He drove off while family members ran after the truck on foot. Her mother got into her car and chased the truck, but was unable to catch them.
Police say they received a report only minutes earlier of a man exposing himself to little girls just a few blocks away. Dyer said the man and his vehicle matched the description of the abductor.