Little girl safe after tense Amber Alert standoff

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – An angry father sparked an Amber Alert when he took his 2-year-old daughter on a dangerous ride, crossing through the night and over the southern part of the state, and ending in Harris County.

"This individual was reckless, irresponsible, driving anywhere from 100 to 110 miles per hour," said Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Gilliland.

It started in Austin, Friday afternoon, when police say 33-year-old Jesse Thomas kicked in the door of his mother's house, where his daughter was staying, grabbed 2-year-old Cheyenne Johnson, and took off.

Investigators say he had just lost his parental rights of the girl that day, to his mother, who is Cheyenne's grandmother.

Police from different agencies spotted Thomas, pursued, and lost him several times until it ended Saturday morning in a strip mall parking lot at Highway 249 and Spring Cypress, where he got into a three-hour stand-off with Harris County Sheriff's deputies.

"At one point during the negotiations they were able to negotiate the child away from him, to give her up," said Gilliland. "At that point a female deputy ran up, grabbed the child and ran back toward a command post area."

Investigators say she was in good condition, but badly needed a diaper change, so a father working nearby stepped in.

"I had some extra diapers in my car with some wipes and I gave them the diapers," said Dallas Purdy. "I was pretty upset, my daughter's 2-years-old and she's my world. I couldn't imagine or fathom a father doing anything like that to their child, no matter what the situation is."

Police were finally able to hit Thomas with a stun gun, then a bean bag gun, to bring him into custody. He was checked out at the hospital then he'll be taken to a local jail.

"This ended peacefully, just the way we wanted it to," said Gilliland.

The little girl was taken to Methodist Willowbrook Hospital to be checked out as a precaution then reunited with her grandmother.

Saturday afternoon KHOU 11 News staff saw a child leaving the hospital matching Cheyenne's age and description, back in the arms of a grey-haired woman, surrounded by officers, safe and sound.

Austin police say Thomas will likely face charges of burglary, kidnapping and endangering a child.

Police also say he was already out on bond, accused of two counts of aggravated assault on an officer, stemming from a separate incident.


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