HOPEWELL, Va. -- Detective Ryan Fitzsimons was gathering his things to head home at the end of his shift Saturday night when a call came out over the police radio: a vehicle had been stolen from a gas station and a six-month old baby was still inside.
"It heightens everything. Makes it a whole lot worse,” Fitzsimons, who has been on the force for 13 years, said. “It’s scary. I’m thinking about what the mother must be going through, and nobody wants to see anything happen to a child.”
The vehicle was stolen from the Wawa on Colonial Corner Drive around 11 p.m. Saturday, Hopewell police said. The child’s parents had run into the store quickly when the vehicle was stolen, according to Hopewell Police Chief Kamran Afzal.
“I know they were only there for a very short period of time, so I’m sure they were going through a lot,” Chief Afzal said. “Understandably so, they were panicky, hysterical.”
Shortly after the call, an on-duty sergeant spotted the stolen vehicle on 6th Avenue near the downtown area. Fitzsimons and another officer happened to see them pass near Broadway and joined in pursuit.
“We fell in behind Sergeant Terry,” he said. “We activated our sirens, they continued to not stop.”
The stolen vehicle drove a little farther, but the two men inside ditched the car after turning down a residential dead end street near the Hopewell Marina, police said. The vehicle was still in drive when it was abandoned with the baby still inside.
One officer stayed with the child, who was not injured, and a short time later, Fitzsimons and another detective arrested two men.
Alvontae Clayton and Andre Scott Jr. were taken into custody, charged with a list of felonies and traffic violations in connection to the incident. A weapon was found near one Scott, police said.
“Talking to one of them after he was mirandized, they didn’t realize the baby was in the car until after they had stolen it,” Fitzsimons said.
As for the six-month old girl, she was reunited with her parents after EMS workers checked her condition. Fitzsimons said the baby definitely didn’t even know what she had just been through.
“The baby slept through the entire thing. She was still asleep when I got back to my patrol car after chasing both subjects. When detective Grant and myself got back up there, I went up to the mom to ask how the baby was, and she was still asleep,” Fitzsimons said.
Chief Afzal said he is proud of the quick response by his officers and no one involved was hurt.
“We resolve things on a daily basis. They’re not sexy, they’re not a car chase, they’re not a baby being recovered, they’re not a car stolen, someone getting arrested. A lot of times it’s just going to somebody, de-escalating a situation,” he said.
Both Scott and Clayton remain in custody, court records show.