Couple who wanted a baby abducted 1-year-old in Chamblee, police say

08/31/2020 - Chamblee, Georgia - One-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera sits in his fatherÕs lap during a press conference at the Chamblee Police Station in Chamblee, Monday, August 31, 2020v. Due to quick coordination and collaboration by various local and federal police agencies, one-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera was located in Carrol County within the same day that two suspects, Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga (male) and Kristin Nicole Valera-Zuniga (female), kidnapped him from his mother in Chamblee. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
08/31/2020 - Chamblee, Georgia - One-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera sits in his fatherÕs lap during a press conference at the Chamblee Police Station in Chamblee, Monday, August 31, 2020v. Due to quick coordination and collaboration by various local and federal police agencies, one-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera was located in Carrol County within the same day that two suspects, Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga (male) and Kristin Nicole Valera-Zuniga (female), kidnapped him from his mother in Chamblee. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

A Monday news conference at the Chamblee police headquarters was punctuated occasionally by a baby’s fussing.

No one minded.

Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera, 1, was abducted Saturday afternoon while his mother pushed him in his stroller. After an hours-long search involving various police agencies, he was discovered in Carroll County and safely returned home.

“It’s a situation that no parent wants to experience,” Chamblee Police Chief Kerry Thomas said.

ExploreWatch video of the arrest of two suspected kidnappers

Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga and Kristin Nicole Valera Zuniga were arrested following a traffic stop. Maynor Zuniga was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, theft by taking, interference with custody and damage to property. Kristin Zuniga was charged with kidnapping, interference with custody and criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault. Both were being held Monday at the Dekalb County jail.

Mateo’s mother, Leslie Barrera, was ambushed at gunpoint by a man and woman Saturday afternoon. She tried in vain to keep the couple from taking her child, police said.

“She fought them tooth and nail,” Assistant Chamblee Police Chief Mike Beller said. “She took his gun and tried to shoot him with it. She tore his shorts and took his shoe. She showed a mother’s love and we are so proud of her.”

08/31/2020 - Chamblee, Georgia -  Chief Kerry Thomas of the Chamblee Police Department speaks during a press conference at the Chamblee Police Station in Chamblee, Monday, August 31, 2020. Due to quick coordination and collaboration by various local and federal police agencies, one-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera was located in Carrol County within the same day that two suspects, Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga (male) and Kristin Nicole Valera-Zuniga (female), kidnapped him from his mother in Chamblee. The Chamblee Police Department with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, DeKalb County Police Department, Carroll County SheriffÕs Office, Carrollton Police Department and Brookhaven Police Department, all helped get the baby back safely to his family. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
08/31/2020 - Chamblee, Georgia - Chief Kerry Thomas of the Chamblee Police Department speaks during a press conference at the Chamblee Police Station in Chamblee, Monday, August 31, 2020. Due to quick coordination and collaboration by various local and federal police agencies, one-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera was located in Carrol County within the same day that two suspects, Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga (male) and Kristin Nicole Valera-Zuniga (female), kidnapped him from his mother in Chamblee. The Chamblee Police Department with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, DeKalb County Police Department, Carroll County SheriffÕs Office, Carrollton Police Department and Brookhaven Police Department, all helped get the baby back safely to his family. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Police believe the suspects did not know Barrera or Mateo and had earlier attempted another child abduction. Chamblee police said witnesses reported seeing a couple approach a woman carrying a baby and a blanket. She was able to run away.

“That woman never called 911. We don’t know who she is,” Beller said. “She represents an additional attempted kidnapping charge that we need to make.”

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Chamblee Police Department.

The suspects’ motive, authorities said, was simply that they wanted a child.

“They intended to raise this baby,” Beller said. It was his duty on Saturday to drive Mateo home to his mother. “He slept the whole way.”

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