WEST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A teenager from New York was charged after police said he stole a vehicle with a 2-year-old child inside in West Hartford.
Officers said the child's mother watched helplessly as her car was taken from a repair shop on New Britain Avenue Tuesday afternoon.
They said the 16-year-old suspect sped through several blocks before crashing into another car full of young people.
The mother was only out of her car for minutes, police said.
She left the child in the backseat.
Photos showed the end of a 5 minute, real-life nightmare for a parent: A white car, stolen, with a 2-year-old inside. Shemar Gamble saw the aftermath.
"There were about four or five police cars at first and three more undercover cars that came by and I was wondering what happened," Gamble told Channel 3.
Police said the 16-year-old suspect just happened to be walking by Premium Auto on New Britain Avenue when the opportunity to steal this car presented itself.
"She had just gotten out of the car. It was literally, from our information, a very brief moment that she stepped away from the car and that person happened to be standing in the lot, walking through the lot, saw that, and jumped into the car, and took off," said West Hartford police Capt. Eric Rocheleau.
Little did the suspect know, there was a child inside.
Police said it took the suspect about a minute to realize he was now committing a kidnapping, so he stopped at the Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana on New Britain Avenue and dropped the child off, still in the child seat.
"People saw it happening. They went outside, they grabbed the child, brought him in, and a bunch of people were caring for the child," Rocheleau noted.
Back in the car, police said the teen continued on New Britain Avenue and was only slowed down with stop sticks.
Still, police said, he found ways to endanger more children, crashing into a maroon car on South Main and Sedgwick streets.
"That car was occupied by three people, one of which was a 20-year-old female [with] two juvenile children inside. Those children were shaken up but not injured," Rocheleau said.
The suspect tried to take off on foot, but was taken into custody.
Police said the teen is from New York, but is staying with relatives in New Britain.
"For it to happen this close and this fast is completely unexpected," Gamble said.
What Gamble witnessed is considered a chronic problem in the state. West Hartford officials said they are trying to get tough on the teen.
"In a situation like this, we’ve seen it happen too many times and we really want to discourage it from going on," Rocheleau said.
As of Wednesday morning, the suspect was in a juvenile detention facility in Hartford. A court ordered that he be detained.
"From there on, he’ll be detained until a judge decides either he doesn’t need to be detained anymore or until their court date, possibly the resolution of the court case," added Rocheleau.
The 2-year-old child was not injured.
The suspect faces at least 12 different charges, including second-degree kidnapping and operating a car without a license.