One minute her child was there and the next not.
CHALMETTE, La. – Tuesday night a parent’s worst nightmare came true. One minute her child was there and the next not.
The parents of a 6-year-old girl went to the Meraux Food Store on Paris Road in St Bernard Parish and left her in the car. As they were finishing their shopping just before 7 p.m., their car was stolen with their daughter in it.
Christi Trahan watched the frightening moment unfold.
“When our customers got there first, they came out screaming. When I go out to see what’s going on, someone pulls their car away and all they screamed was ‘my baby, my baby,’ so there was a kid in the car,” Trahan said.
Trahan acted quickly, calling 911 and gathering information from the parents to pass on to officers.
Just before Trahan called 911, another person had called 911 to report an attempted theft car just blocks away on Buffon Street and East St. Bernard Hwy. Colonel Chad Clark, chief detective for the St. Bernard Parish sheriff, says things escalated quickly.
“Absolutely, if something like that happens, of course everyone is on deck,” Clark said.
Clark believes the two male suspects only realized there was a girl in the car after they stole it.
“I think when the two suspects saw that there was a juvenile in the vehicle, they had another vehicle that was reported stolen from New Orleans that they had used in a previous crime just minutes before this crime, so that vehicle was placed a few blocks away from the scene and they were able to take the woman and put her in the vehicle,” Clark said.
After putting the young girl in another car, the suspects drove towards Orleans and eventually fled on foot.
Clark is concerned that people who commit crimes in other communities like Orleans will not be held accountable, then come to his community and commit more crimes there.
“It goes back up and some of them may be juveniles so I don’t think the crimes they commit are getting the justice they really deserve. What happens when you break into the car or a car break that happens all over the city obviously this car break-in becomes a suspect with a gun that turns into a car theft that can end fatally. We have to crack down on youth,” Clark said.
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office works with NOPD not only to apprehend these suspects, but also to fight crimes they believe exceed jurisdiction. Clark believes the suspects are involved with another organization that the NOPD is working to identify.
As they continue to search for the suspects, the young girl has been safely reunited with her family.
“She was absolutely terrified, you can tell she was very terrified and the parents were also very terrified, they thought the youngster had fled St. Bernhard’s parish with the two suspects,” Clark said. “She was sitting in the car, we had her examined by the emergency services. She was with her parents within five to ten minutes, safe and in good health.”
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