By Paula Reed Ward
PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. this morning said that a state trooper who shot and killed a Massachusetts man who abducted a baby in December was justified in his action.
"These guys did a heck of a job," Mr. Zappala said at a news conference. "They did what they're trained to do, and they did it very well."
Mr. Zappala went through the entirety of the incident that began Dec. 7 at a convenience store in Brentwood, where Jared Brown Garnham of Taunton, Mass., stole a car belonging to his former girlfriend — and which had her 8-month-old daughter, Bailey, strapped into a car seat in the back — and ended after a lengthy chase at Pittsburgh International Airport.
After the 2000 Toyota Avalon was stolen about 11 p.m., the baby's mother called 911 and met with Brentwood police officers. They issued an Amber alert and, using GPS triangulation, tracked Garnham's movements because the mother's cell phone was still in the car, Mr. Zappala said.
Ohio Township police spotted Garnham and began chasing him about 1:18 a.m. and were joined in the chase by a number of departments, including Coraopolis, the county, Robert Morris University and state police. A 9-minute, 53-second video of the chase was captured by a Moon police car.
Eventually, the chase ended outside a gate at the airport leading to the tarmac, Mr. Zappala said.
For about two minutes, Garnham sat in the car, yelling at police to shoot him.
"He's swearing at them," Mr. Zappala said. "He's saying, 'Kill me, kill me."
Garnham reached into the back seat and pulled the baby's car seat into the front with him, and then he can be seen pulling Bailey out by her arm. He was holding a 5-inch fixed-blade knife in his right hand, and made several superficial wounds to the baby's throat. He also stabbed himself in the leg and neck — also superficially.
"They're trying to calm him down," Mr. Zappala said as video continued to play. "'It doesn't have to be this way. We just want the baby.'"
As officers continued to give commands, "He's threatening to killing himself and the baby. The baby's on his lap against his chest. The baby's exposed."
Garnham put the car in reverse, rammed into the gate behind him, and attempted then to drive forward past the officers, the prosecutor said. But the Avalon got caught on a curb and eventually caught fire.
Officers feared taking a shot at Garnham through a window because of possibly causing the bullet to fragment or change trajectory, Mr. Zappala said. Instead, using a steel asp, one officer broke out the rear passenger window and a trooper leaned in, firing a single shot into Garnham's head from 12 to 20 inches away.
The baby was not injured.
Mr. Zappala praised the police response.
"They showed tremendous restraint," he said. "They saved that baby's life."
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