ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Monica Jones said Thursday she was more angry than afraid when she rushed to the aid of a screaming neighbor girl, pointed a shotgun at a man who had allegedly ripped off the youngster's clothes, and warned: ''Stay put or I'll shoot.''

''You don't think about getting hurt,'' Ms. Jones, a mother of three, said in an interview. ''If someone is getting hurt, I can't close my door.''

Police credit Ms. Jones' quick action with preventing the 12-year-old girl from being raped.

''She's a heroine,'' said police Capt. Robert Richters. ''She did an outstanding job - simply outstanding.''

But Ms. Jones, 28, said her actions under the circumstances were only normal.

''I wasn't going to stand back and let this man take this child and do awful things to her,'' she said. ''She wasn't nothing but a baby. If she were my child, I would hope somebody would be there to save her.''

Police said the victim was grabbed at a bus stop in north St. Louis about 7 p.m. Tuesday and dragged into the apartment building where Ms. Jones lives with her three children, ages 2, 8 and 11.

The man ripped off the girl's clothing and tried to rape her, but the girl managed to break loose and run into the hallway, where she was met by Ms. Jones, police said.

''I was talking on the telephone when I heard the screams,'' Ms. Jones recalled. ''I cracked my door and I saw this child butt naked and him half- clothed. I screamed at him to let her go, and he told me to go away.

''She was screaming: 'Please help me 3/8,' '' Ms. Jones said. ''I asked her how old she was. She said she was 12. I knew I had to do something. He was beating the devil out of that little girl.''

At that point, Ms. Jones told her son to get her single-barrel shotgun. She pointed it at the attacker as he tried to drag the girl into his apartment.

''He tried to run off,'' she said. ''I told him not to go anywhere.''

Ms. Jones said she wasn't afraid but admits she didn't know what she was going to do while she waited for police to arrive.

''I knew I wasn't going to let this guy get away,'' she said. ''I've got kids - and this girl could have been one of mine.''

Had he tried to escape, she said, she would have pulled the trigger.

''He got me so mad - I've never been so mad in my life,'' she said. ''He said, 'Lady, you're crazy, you're going to shoot me.' And I told him to stay put or I'll shoot.''

Ms. Jones said she's never used the shotgun, which she purchased about a month ago when a man broke into her apartment.

''I'm afraid for my kids,'' she said. ''I know I will do it again if they come messing with me again.'

The suspect, Leon Fowler, 23, was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and attempted rape.