HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida sheriff’s office has released body camera footage that shows the moment they found a missing toddler at the center of an Amber Alert.
In the video, you can see Master Corporal John Seale with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office locate the stolen vehicle, abandoned at a church in Brandon, with 1-year-old Tinnley West inside.
“You alright, baby?” Master Cpl. Seale can be heard saying.
Master Corporal Seale then removed the crying toddler from her carseat to comfort her.
“You’re hot,” he said as he radioed for medical care for the child as he consoled her. “It’s alright baby.”
The toddler was found at St. Andrews Methodist Church, located three miles southwest of her home in the Tampa suburb of Valrico.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said the vehicle was off and a little warm, but the baby was unharmed.
“I was sitting in my office all of a sudden all these police cars start coming in, there was a fire truck, an ambulance and I could hear the helicopter overhead,” said St. Andrew’s Church Co-Senior Pastor Gary Rideout. Rideout said he doesn’t think it’s a coincidence the suspect left her there. “I was just so glad the baby was back with her parents, and as horrible as this is, something inspired this man to bring the baby to a church. So he knew it would be safe there.”
Deputies have now turned their attention to locating the man who stole the SUV with the toddler inside, prompting an Amber Alert on Tuesday.
The sheriff said the man seen in surveillance footage from a homeowner’s front porch was walking around the neighborhood asking people for a ride.
Chronister believes that the same person eventually stole the SUV that was parked in a driveway while Tinnley’s mom was helping her mother-in-law unload groceries. Chronister said Tinnley was asleep in the back seat.
“Less than a minute. That’s all it takes, is less than a minute,” Chronister said. “Because she didn’t want to wake up the baby to remove her from the car, someone took advantage and jumped in this car, and stole it with the baby inside.”
“It was really scary, but she’s okay. She’s probably hungry and thirsty,” Tinnley’s mother Chelsea West told reporters after being reunited with her baby. “Just grateful. Grateful and happy.”
When asked what they would say to the individual who stole their car, Tinnley’s father responded: “Don’t let me find you.”