Florida man kidnapped girlfriend’s 1-year-old at gunpoint and used the child as a human shield at McDonald’s, officials say

A Florida man was arrested after he kidnapped his girlfriend’s 1-year-old boy and led officers on a chase before he used the child as a human shield outside a McDonald’s last week, authorities said.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home on Bunker Lane in Palm Coast, about 60 miles south of Jacksonville, on the evening of Sept. 27 about a report of a possible child abduction, it said in a news release.

Brandon Leohner, 27, the boyfriend of the child’s mother, abducted the 1-year-old “while armed with a handgun and was driving with the child in his lap as he left the residence,” the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies tried to pull Leohner over after he drove recklessly through medians and sped on Belle Terre Parkway, the sheriff’s office said. He did not comply and instead fled east onto State Road 100, driving through oncoming traffic, before he turned into a McDonald’s parking lot in a shopping center, it said.

Leohner got out of his vehicle near the McDonald’s drive-thru with the 1-year-old in his arms, using the child as a human shield and refusing to listen to commands to put the child down, authorities said.

After a brief standoff, deputies used a Taser on Leohner and rescued the child, they said. Leohner tried to flee and resist arrest, but a K-9 dog and a Taser brought him under control, and he was placed in handcuffs, the sheriff’s office said.

“Here is a case of a domestic situation turning violent, putting a 1-year-old child and innocent drivers in danger,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. “Fortunately, the child was not hurt and was quickly reunited with his mother.”

Leohner was arrested and charged with kidnapping, using a minor as a shield, resisting with violence, child neglect, fleeing and eluding, and reckless driving. He was taken to a medical center to be treated for his wounds Sunday morning and booked at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility, where he remains on $61,000 bond, sheriff’s spokesperson Messod Bendayan told NBC News.

It was unclear Tuesday whether Leohner has an attorney.


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