Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Authorities investigating the abduction of a 3-year-old boy from his home received dozens of tips from the public but none of the calls had resulted in solid information, officials said Tuesday.
Two gunmen burst through the family's front door Sunday and tied up 3-year-old Briant Rodriguez, four of his siblings and their mother, Maria Rosalina Millan, then ransacked the house, stealing money and other property, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.
No motive had been established and federal and local investigators were looking at several theories, including that the Spanish-speaking kidnappers were from Mexico and may have had ties to organized crime there.
"They grabbed my kid, told me 'I'm going to take the kid to Mexico and I'm going to kill him,"' the distraught Millan said in Spanish to reporters gathered in her front yard Monday night. "I said, 'Why? Don't take my kid,' and he told me to 'turn around, I'm going to shoot you. Stop talking."'
Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said investigators were considering all possibilities but had no substantial leads.
"They've been looking at many, many avenues," she said. "It's certainly a possibility they were up from Mexico."
The home invasion lasted about 20 minutes, after which the men left with Briant, ordering his mother and the other children not to call police, the department said in a statement.
"There has been no demand for ransom, there has been no contact with the family," said Jodi Miller, another sheriff's spokeswoman.
Miller said authorities along the Mexican border had been put on alert, and FBI investigators were helping in the investigation.
"It's horrifying," sheriff's Lt. Rick Ells said. "I don't think I could impress on you how rare a kidnapping like this is."
Briant's older brother said the men tried to steal the family car.
"Our keys were inside our car, cause we were about to leave," 14-year-old Benjamin Barasa told KNBC-TV. "So they couldn't find them, so they got mad. They took my little brother. He didn't know what was happening so he wasn't crying."
One of the children - an 8-year-old boy - wiggled free from his ties and freed the rest of the family, authorities said. Briant is the youngest of Millan's seven children. Her 16-year-old son was not home and another adult child does not live at home.
The boy's father was at work at the time and the initial investigation pointed to the kidnappers being strangers to the family, Ells said.
The gunmen stole Millan's cell phone, so she had to make the emergency call from a nearby liquor store, Ells said.
The California Highway Patrol didn't issue an Amber Alert for Briant until about nine hours after the family called San Bernardino County authorities.
According to the CHP Web site, one requirement for activating an Amber Alert is that information be available that could assist in a child's safe recovery. In this case, however, police said they had no witness descriptions of the abductors' vehicle that could be posted on highway information signs to help locate the suspects.