The neighbour of a child killed in Thunder Bay says she fought off the man suspected of killing the 8-year-old, after he tried to break into her home in the early hours of Monday morning.

"It was exactly like being in a horror movie," Kim Stajkowski told CBC News.

"I was sleeping on my couch, I jumped up, he was yelling where is she?," said Stajkowski, who lives in the main floor apartment of the 4-plex where the child was killed. "I ran up to him, I said, 'What are you doing in my house. You can't be here, my babies are here. She's not here.'

"I pushed him straight down my stairs. I kept pushing until we were in the back yard, at which point I saw his weapon and I turned and yelled, 'there's a knife' and I ran back to the house."

Stajkowski said she was aware that police were involved last week when the man was kicked out of the apartment downstairs, so she was deeply concerned about her neighbours.

"I ran straight downstairs to check on the children downstairs and that's when I found the girl," she said, sobbing. "There was nothing I could do."

Stajkowski said a friend in her apartment guarded the door to prevent the man from returning, and called 911.

"I ran and I grabbed my children out of their beds and we huddled in the kitchen praying that guy didn't come back into our house before the cops came."

Struggling to explain

When police arrived, Stajkowski said they found the girl and her brother in the downstairs apartment.

"They covered his eyes and got him across the street to where his mom was," she said.

Stajkowski said she doesn't know how the woman escaped.

"I feel so bad for that little girl's family. I'm so happy the little boy was okay," she said.

A 38-year-old man who was a suspect in the girl's death, fled the scene and died shortly after being arrested by police on Wharton Road.

Stajkowski said she is currently living in a hotel and struggling to explain what happened to her 3-year-old son.

"All my son knows is that there is an accident and we won't be going home," she said. "I don't know what to say to them. The little girl was amazing with my children. They did tea parties. She was such a sparkle in their eyes. I can't even put words together to even explain this to them."

"No one should ever see what we saw and that should never happen."