A 1-year-old baby in Florida who was abducted during a carjacking on Tuesday was reunited with her family after police located the abandoned vehicle hours later.
Tinnley West was sleeping in a car seat inside her family’s 2018 Volkswagen SUV around 3 p.m. while her mother and mother-in-law were unloading the vehicle, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.
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A man then entered the unlocked, still-running SUV and drove away – with Tinnley still asleep inside.
“In less than a minute – and that’s all it takes is less than a minute because she didn’t want to wake up the baby – someone took advantage and jumped in this car and stole the car with this baby inside,” Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters.
Deputies combed the area for Tinnley and issued a statewide Amber Alert.
After more than two hours of searching, deputies found Tinnley unharmed, the sheriff’s office said. The child was inside the abandoned SUV in the parking lot of St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Brandon, about three miles from her home.
The sheriff’s office released bodycam footage of Master Corporal John Seale finding Tinnley. Seale was later awarded the Chief’s Challenge Coin for his heroic efforts.
“We just want to say thank you and we’re so happy that she’s back,” Tinnley’s mom Chelsea told FOX13 Tampa. “We’re all very grateful and happy.”
Chronister said this was “the best possible outcome we could have asked for” and reuniting Tinnley with her family brought the department a “tremendous amount of joy and relief.”
“While I am thankful that the suspect did the right thing, he will still face the consequences for his actions,” Chronister said. “We want to locate this individual immediately, and we’re asking the public to help us bring him to justice.”
The sheriff’s office also released surveillance video of the male suspect who was seen in the neighborhood at the time the vehicle was stolen.
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Anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 813-247-8200.