Woman allegedly tries to take baby from Clayton hospital

A 19-year-old woman accused of walking into a Clayton County hospital room and trying to snatch a newborn Wednesday was stopped in her tracks, thanks to an alarm system and two hospital employees, authorities said.

Naquelle Sontieq Ballard walked into Southern Regional Medical Center Women's Life Center shortly after 9 a.m. and tried to leave with the baby, Officer Phong Nguyen with the Clayton County Police Department told the AJC.

Ballard, of Morrow, allegedly posed as a hospital worker and walked into a room, where she took a 2-day-old girl, according to her arrest warrant. Ballard then placed the baby in her pocketbook, the warrant states.

A hospital alarm sounded when Ballard tried to walk away with the baby, and two employees stopped the woman, a hospital spokeswoman told the AJC. The woman walked out of the hospital without the infant, and the employees called police. The baby was not injured.

Witnesses were able to describe Ballard and her vehicle to officers, who stopped the woman about five miles away, in Lake City, Nguyen said.

The woman was taken into custody and charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment, both felonies, Nguyen said. Ballard was being held Wednesday night without bond. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Additional charges are possible pending the outcome of the investigation, police said. Investigators plan to review surveillance footage from hospital cameras, Nguyen said.

In addition to recent security upgrades totaling $180,000, hospital employees in the Women's Life Center are trained for situations like the one Wednesday morning, Amanda Bartlett, hospital spokeswoman, told the AJC. The unit goes through drills twice a year to prepare for emergency situations, Bartlett said.