CHALMETTE, La. — Tuesday night a parent's worst nightmare came true. One minute their child was there and the next they weren’t.
The parents of a 6-year-old girl went into Meraux Food Store on Paris Road in St. Bernard Parish, leaving her in the car. As they were finishing their shopping, just before 7 p.m., their car was stolen with their daughter inside.
Christi Trahan saw the scary moment unfold.
“First our customers were in there they came out screaming. As I’m walking out to see what’s going on, their car is being driven off by someone and all they kept screaming was ‘my baby my baby’ so there was a kid in the car,” Trahan said.
Trahan moved quickly, calling 911 and gathering information from the parents to relay to officers.
Right before Trahan called 911, another person had called 911 to report an attempted carjacking just blocks away on Buffon Street and East St. Bernard Hwy. Colonel Chad Clark, Chief of Detectives for the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s office says things escalated quickly.
“Absolutely when something like that happens it’s obviously all hands on deck,” Clark said.
Clark believes the two male suspects did not realize there was a girl in the car until after they stole it.
“I think when the two suspects saw there was a juvenile inside the vehicle there was another vehicle they had that was reported stolen out of New Orleans they used in a prior crime just minutes before this crime occurred so that vehicle was placed just blocks from the scene and they were able to take the female and put her inside the vehicle,” Clark said.
After placing the young girl in a different car, the suspects began driving toward Orleans, ultimately fleeing on foot.
Clark is concerned people committing crimes in other parishes like Orleans, are not being held responsible, then coming into his parish and committing more crimes there.
“It goes back to and some of these are possibly juveniles so the crimes they’re committing I don’t think they’re getting the justice that’s really deserved. What happens when you burglarize the car or a car break in which that’s happening throughout the city, obviously that car burglary turns into a suspect with a weapon which turns into a carjacking which can end fatal. We have to crack down on juveniles,” Clark said.
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s office is working with NOPD, not only to catch these suspects but to also combat crime they believe is crossing jurisdiction. Clark believes the suspects are involved in another organization the NOPD is working to identify.
While they continue to look for the suspects, the young girl has been reunited safely with her family.
“She was scared absolutely you can tell she was very scared and the parents were very scared as well they thought the juvenile fled st Bernard parish with the two suspects,” Clark said. “She was just sitting the car, we had EMS come check her out. She was with her parents within five to ten minutes tops, safe and in good condition.”