• 48°

Car theft becomes kidnapping

Police apprehended a suspect in a car theft and kidnapping Tuesday night thanks to quick police response and the keen senses of a Decatur County Sheriff’s Office tracking dog.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, a woman went inside a residence on Water Street in Bainbridge to pick up a friend, leaving her two small children in the car asleep. When she returned, her minivan, along with her children, two girls ages 4 and 6, were gone. She ran to the nearby Las Lomas store and called E-911, which alerted police to be on the lookout for the vehicle.

A short time later, Bainbridge Public Safety Corp. Craig Carr and Officer Rusty Day spotted a vehicle matching the description driving on Dothan Road. Both officers initially pulled past it. After realizing it had been the stolen vehicle they turned around and found the minivan pulled into the River Plaza Shopping Center on Crawford Street. Several witnesses, including a mail carrier, told police they had seen the man run behind the nearby post office.

The two young girls were found unharmed inside the van.

BPS officers as well as Sheriff’s deputies quickly formed a perimeter around the area where the man was seen fleeing.

Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Logue brought his K-9 tracking dog Koti to help with the search. A short time later, the K-9 led Sheriff’s Deputies Jason Williams, Michael Logue and BPS Sgt. Ray Cox straight to a suspect, Ismael Garcia-Diaz, hiding in the bushes near an oak tree behind the post office.

According to incident reports, while being transported to the Decatur County Jail, Garcia-Diaz told officers he had been traveling to West Bainbridge when he realized the children were in the vehicle. Diaz-Garcia said he turned around to take the children back, but he didn’t make it and ran.

BPS Investigator James Dollar said Garcia-Diaz was arrested and charged with theft of a motor vehicle and two counts of kidnapping.