BARTOW, Fla. — A family outing turned terrifying Sunday night in Polk County.
Police say three small children were kidnapped when their mom was carjacked just before 8 p.m. on West Ethelene Street near North Floral Avenue in Bartow.
The parents were in the process of taking the family out for the evening. The mother was in a parking lot and had just secured the kids in the car while the dad was still inside. But, as the mom climbed into the driver's side of the car, a carjacker with a handgun ordered her back out.
The mom told the carjacker there were children in the car, but investigators say the armed person forcibly removed her from the car. Then, that carjacker and a second person got into the car and sped off with the kids inside.
Officers raced to the scene and began searching for the kids. Two of them were found in the road near the residential area where the carjacking occurred. The third child was left in another roadway nearby.
All three children are safe. Neither the mother nor any of the kids were hurt.
The car was found in the area of Nebraska Avenue and Columbus Drive. Tampa police officers, who were dispatched to help, located one of the alleged carjackers.
Bartow police say he was identified as 25-year-old Deshawn Newland. He was arrested and charged with armed carjacking, kidnapping, child endangerment, discharging a firearm and violation of probation.
As of late Monday morning, the second alleged carjacker had not been caught. Anyone with information about the case is urged to call Detective Fender at 863-534-5041 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.
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