NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 3-year-old girl was found safe in New York City on Friday after she was apparently abducted in Pennsylvania, the NYPD said.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, it was a happy ending Friday evening for Ava Byrne, 3, and her mother, who were reunited after an Amber Alert came to resolution in record time.
An AMBER Alert was issued for Ava after police said she was taken by her father, 34-year-old Robert Byrne.
The child had last been seen around 12:30 a.m. Friday on Vine Street in Nescopeck Borough, Pennsylvania.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, police said when silver car with Pennsylvania license plate HKB4681 was stopped at Tenth Avenue and 34th Street on the West Side of Manhattan Friday afternoon, it brought an end to Ava’s plight.
Police said they had never seen anything like it, with a child being found just minutes after an AMBER Alert goes out.
The AMBER Alert had indicated that Ava was in “imminent danger” after the alleged kidnapping.
The alert did exactly what police always hope it will. It attracted the attention of a man who was just walking by, and noticed the car in slow-moving traffic.
The man ran up to an NYPD traffic officer named Md Ali. Officer Ali looked at the car looked at the license plate and checked his phone.
“I checked the number. I see the same number,” Officer Ali said. “I said: ‘Sir, don’t move your car please. Just pull over the car. I want to talk to you.’”
Ali said he saw the man and the girl and knew the situation was serious. He called for police back up and as he did, he said the driver attempted to make a getaway on foot with the child in his arms.
“In the meantime, the guy came out the car with the baby, and he was walking down; leaving the car,” Ali said.
Another NYPD officer showed up and arrested Byrne. He was taken to the 10th Precinct stationhouse for questioning while the girl went to Bellevue Hospital Center as a precaution.
“The kid looked OK, but she looked really scared like that,” Ali said.
The AMBER Alert was officially canceled at 2:23 p.m. Friday.
Officer said they have never seen such an AMBER Alert rescue. The car was found within five minutes of the time when the AMBER Alert was announced.
“Honestly, I think it’s incredible,” said NYPD Officer Sean Mooney. “We do receive a lot of AMBER alerts, and this would be the first time I was ever involved in finding an individual that was in question for it.”
Late Friday night, Ava was headed home to Pennsylvania late Friday with her mother and grandmother.
“I am feeling happy and I just want to go home and spend time with my daughter,” said Ava’s mother, Morgan Barela.
Robert Byrne was walked out of the police station on his way to court Friday night.
It was still unclear late Friday what prompted Robert Byrne to take Ava. Her grandmother speculated mental illness.
“He just hears voices,” said Ava’s grandmother, Debbie Cyr. “He listens to what the voices tell him to do.”
Ava was checked out at Bellevue Hospital Center before she went home. Officers said she appeared to be unharmed and in good health.