Allegheny County DA Zappala says state trooper justified in shooting baby-snatcher
March 12, 2014 11:20 PM
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. speaks at the county courthouse Wednesday about a fatal shooting near the Pittsburgh airport in December. A state trooper opened fire, killing Jared Brown Garnham, pictured in background, who was accused of kidnapping and threatening to kill a baby.
8-month-old Bailey Ferguson
Jared Brown Garnham
By Paula Reed Ward / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jared Brown Garnham made it clear to the police early in the morning hours of Dec. 8 that he was not going back to Massachusetts, where he had been a witness and possible suspect in a gang-related homicide.
He pleaded with officers -- even as he held a 5-inch knife to the throat of an 8-month-old baby -- to kill him.
In the end, they did, in what Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. called Wednesday "a justifiable shooting."
District attorney: Trooper justified in killing baby kidnapper
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said the fatal shooting of Jared Brown Garnham of Taunton, Mass., who had abducted an 8-month-old baby, was justified. Warning: Video contains graphic images. (Video by Nate Guidry; 3/12/2014)
"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 incident that began at a convenience store in Brentwood. Garnham, 21, of Taunton, Mass., stole a car belonging to his former girlfriend -- and which had her daughter, Bailey, strapped into a car seat in the back -- and led police on a chase that ended at Pittsburgh International Airport.
After the car was stolen about 11 p.m. Dec. 7, the baby's mother called 911 and met with Brentwood police officers. They issued an Amber alert and, using GPS triangulation, were able to track the car because the mother's cell phone was still in it, Mr. Zappala said.
Ohio Township police spotted Garnham and began chasing him about 1:18 a.m. and were joined by a number of departments, including Coraopolis, the county, Robert Morris University and state police. A 9-minute, 53-second video of the incident was captured by a Moon police car.
The chase ended outside an airport gate leading to the tarmac, Mr. Zappala said.
Garnham sat in the car, yelling at police to shoot him. "He's saying, 'kill me, kill me," Mr. Zappala said.
He reached into the back seat and pulled the baby's car seat into the front, then he pulled Bailey out by an arm. He held a 5-inch knife and made several superficial wounds to the baby's throat. He also stabbed himself in the leg and neck -- also superficially.
"He's threatening to kill himself and the baby. The baby's on his lap against his chest. The baby's exposed," Mr. Zappala said.
Garnham then put the car in reverse, rammed the gate behind him, and tried to drive forward past the officers. But the car got stuck on a curb and caught fire.
Using a steel baton, one officer broke out the rear passenger window and a trooper leaned in, firing a shot into Garnham's head from 12 to 20 inches away.
The baby was not injured.
"They showed tremendous restraint," Mr. Zappala said. "They saved that baby's life."
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com or 412-263-2620. First Published March 12, 2014 11:38 AM