“I heard a big ‘boom’ outside,” said Nancy Turner, who saw the collision that ended the high-speed chase in front of her home near Barnesville. “She was running to my front door. I came outside and (police) were tackling her to the ground.”
William has been safely returned to his mother, Kristen Howard, and Barrett – now Howard’s former friend – is in police custody.
“We’re enemies, now,” Howard told reporters as she left police headquarters Wednesday evening. “I hope they light her ass on fire.”
William was kidnapped from his home Tuesday night in his mother’s stolen car, authorities said.
“I was going to take my friend to the store, and I went inside to get a lighter,” Howard said. “I come back outside … the car’s gone.”
By mid-day Wednesday, thousands of people across metro Atlanta knew that police were looking for a gray 2003 Ford Taurus, as emergency alerts lit up mobile phones, highway traffic signs and digital billboards along roadways throughout the area.
Around 12:30 a.m., Henry County police spokesman Sgt. Joey Smith said a woman had called 9-1-1 to say she saw the Taurus southbound on I-75 in Clayton County.
A man riding with Barrett got out of the car at some point during the pursuit, Smith said. That man cooperated with police questioning him, and likely won’t face charges, authorities said.
Georgia State Troopers led a high-speed pursuit that eclipsed 100 mph after Barrett was spotted, authorities said.
Police don’t take the risk of chasing a suspect with children lightly, Webster said.
“Very often, we will not pursue a car,” Webster said of Lamar County’s chase policy. “But this is a situation where this child has been kidnapped. And the safety of this child … you know, what’s going to happen to this child? What’s this woman’s intention?”
Police said troopers and Butts County sheriff’s deputies used stop sticks — the strip of spikes that shred tires — to slow Barrett down.
“It decreased her speed quite a bit,” Webster said. “She was rolling on her rims at about 30 mph once I became involved in the pursuit.”
Authorities said Barrett got off I-75 at Ga. 36 and traveled about a mile before troopers attempted a pit maneuver to stop her on Upper High Falls Road.
After the wreck, police said Barrett tried to flee on foot.
“She got out of the driver’s side door and ran,” Webster said. He said he and a GBI agent pulled the baby from a car seat in the back of the vehicle as troopers chased Barrett on foot.
“The baby was not crying. He seemed to be oblivious to what was going on.”
Howard is just to happy to have William back.
“The way my car looks, I’m just glad my baby is alive,” she said.
—Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.