HOUSTON – Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested in connection with an auto theft and kidnapping of five children Wednesday in southwest Houston.
Brenton Alex Simmons, 24, is charged with five counts of kidnapping in the 230th State District Court.
It happened at about 6:15 p.m. in the 8600 block of West Bellfort.
Police said Simmons jumped inside a 2009 GMC Acadia after the driver left it running, with five children inside, as she walked into a Jack in the Box. Five children, ages 3 to 11, were inside the JTD Transportation SUV.
An Amber Alert was issued and three hours and 22 miles later, officers pulled Simmons over near Cinco Ranch. The children were safe and a happy reunion played out at the Houston Police Department headquarters.
"I'm happy I got my baby back," said parent Sonya Mims.
KHOU has learned Simmons has a lengthy criminal history. Since 2009, he's been charged with criminal mischief, evading arrest, theft, prostitution, assaulting a family member and deadly conduct. A judge made sure to reflect Simmons past in his new bond amounts Friday morning at probable cause court. The judge said based on the amount and nature of Simmons' prior convictions, and the nature of the case, Simmons' bond in each case would be raised from $10,000 to $50,000.
Simmons asked for a court appointed attorney.
As parents learned more about Simmons' criminal history, the more grateful they were that he didn't choose to hurt their kids.
"Crazy and needs to be locked up," said another parent named Gloria. "It's scary. So much stuff happens; you got to be careful who you allow your kids with."
The woman who left the kids in the vehicle is Latonya Jackson. KHOU stopped by her house Thursday afternoon to hear from her, but no one opened the door. Jackson did speak from behind the door and said she didn't want to answer questions.
Her neighbors did sound off.
"I think that's very irresponsible," said Reginald Dugas. "What she should have did is wait 'till she dropped off the kids and then gone and got what she needed."
Parents who went through this nightmare say they won't be riding with this driver anymore.
"She won't be riding the bus anymore," said Mims. "We're going to be taking her ourselves."
Officials say Jackson could still face charges, both for traffic violations and for not securing the children.