A 2-year-old girl died from injuries sustained in a police chase after her dad abruptly removed her from her day care, according to a Texas sheriff.
The girl’s father, later identified as Deontray Flanagan, was arrested following the incident, which began around 10:15 a.m. on Monday, March 20, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said in a news briefing streamed by KHOU that the 25-year-old dad took the toddler from the day care and then drove to a retail store where the child’s mother works.
Flanagan threatened the woman and asked for her phone, according to the sheriff. He is accused of saying he would hurt the child if she did not comply.
The child’s mother tried to rescue the girl, but she was unsuccessful. Gonzalez said Flanagan struck the woman multiple times in the face before fleeing the store with the child and the woman’s phone.
Officers tracked the woman’s phone to find the man and 2-year-old, the sheriff said. He was driving a red Camaro, and officers began pursuing the driver.
At some point during the police chase, the toddler’s mom FaceTimed Flanagan and try to get him to stop, Gonzalez said. After a miles-long chase, the driver swerved and stopped in a church parking lot, according to officials.
He did not surrender himself initially, and negotiators learned the child was possibly in “bad shape” physically, Gonzalez said. When Flanagan and child were eventually removed from the car, first responders began life-saving measures on the girl, according to the sheriff.
The toddler was in “serious, critical condition” and CPR was administered until the girl was flown to a hospital, the sheriff said. Gonzalez said at 5 p.m. the girl had died.
A cause of death has not been reported.
It’s believed the child had “jumped around the car” during the pursuit and struck her head. The sheriff said it’s believed the girl was not wearing a seat belt.
Gonzalez said it’s unclear if Flanagan physically hurt the girl, but no weapons were found in the car.
Flanagan was charged with murder and booked in the Harris County Jail, the sheriff said. The relationship between Flanagan and the girl’s mother is unclear.