Tense standoff sparked by Amber Alert ends with grandmother, toddler reunion

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080914-ktrk-video-cheynne-johnson (KTRK)

A tense standoff in northwest Harris County related to an Amber Alert ended Saturday morning with a man in custody and the child he's accused of abducting safe.

The standoff happened in the parking lot of a Petco at Highway 249 at Spring Cypress. DPS troopers say Jessie Williams Thomas, 33, was in a vehicle there with his 2-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Infinity Johnson. Thomas reportedly abducted the toddler in Austin Friday evening.

"I would just hope as a parent he would think about what he put his child through," said Kelly Subda, who watched as swat officers narrowed in on Thomas.

Throughout the roughly two-hour standoff, police communicated with the suspect through an open window of the vehicle. Deputies say they asked Thomas to let the child go, which he eventually did do. Once the child was at a safe distance, deputies say they say they stormed the vehicle and arrested Thomas.

According to Thomas Gillaland with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, a Taser was used in the arrest.

"Our operators then tased him, simultaneously also shot him with a 40mm less than lethal munition which incapacitated him," said Sgt. Gilliland.

Cheyenne is said to be OK and was reunited with her grandmother at Methodist Hospital in Willowbrook.

"The main priority was the child, or course," said DPS Trooper Stephen Woodard.

According to Austin police, the whole situation started Friday when Thomas went to his mother's house. The child's grandmother had just been awarded custody of Cheyenne.

Police say the two argued through the door. Thomas went around to the back of the home and reportedly kicked through the back door, after which there was a struggle between the two. The grandmother tried to call 911, but police say Thomas threw the phone at her.

Thomas then reportedly grabbed the child and took off.

Police later found Thomas at a U-Haul storage facility in Austin. When officers approached, they say he threw the car into reverse, ran through a barricade and took off with Cheyenne in the car.

While Thomas was on the run, he was involved in at least four pursuits. In each, police say he drove in excess of 100 miles per hour with his headlights off. Because of the danger, police called off the pursuits.

Police say Thomas was out on bond for aggravated assault on a peace officer. He had reportedly tried to run over the officer back in January 2014.

On the scene of the standoff, some eyewitnesses sprung into action to help the little girl.

"Cop ran up and said we need diapers, we need diapers, I said I got you. I have them in the back of my truck," said Dallas Purdy.

Thomas will face a number of charges from Austin to Houston including burglary, kidnapping, evading and possibly child endangerment.

Police said Johnson's mother was incarcerated before this incident.

Thomas is now being held on a $500,000 bond.

Johnson was released to her grandmother who drove in from Austin to get her.
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