GRAPHIC: Kidnapping suspect uses 1-year-old as human shield

GRAPHIC: Video shows Brandon Leohner standing in a drive-thru with a baby in front of his chest. (Source: Flagler County Sheriff's Office/BODY CAMS+ /TMX)
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 2:01 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PALM COAST, Fla. (Gray News) – A Florida man is facing charges after kidnapping his 1-year-old child and using the baby as a human shield in an attempt to evade arrest, deputies said.

According to a statement from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a report of a child abduction in Palm Coast shortly after 6 p.m. on Sep. 27. Deputies learned that the mother’s boyfriend, 27-year-old Brandon Matthew Douglas Leohner, was armed with a gun and had taken his child. The sheriff’s office said Leohner was seen driving away with the child on his lap.

Deputies spotted Leohner “driving recklessly through medians while speeding,” and when they attempted a traffic stop, Leohner fled. Leohner entered a McDonald’s parking lot and got out of his vehicle, holding the baby.

Video released by the sheriff’s office shows Leohner standing in the McDonald’s drive-thru, with the baby in front of his chest, while deputies order him to put the child down. Leohner has his back against a wall as a deputy with a stun gun and a deputy with a K-9 partner corner him.

The deputies deploy both the dog and the stun gun and Leohner falls to the ground, still holding the baby. A deputy takes the child away as it cries, “Dada.”

“Here is a case of a domestic situation turning violent, putting a 1-year-old child and innocent drivers in danger,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. “Deputies were confronted with a very chaotic situation and a very combative individual that was putting his child at risk by using the child as a shield. Our deputies did everything they could to quickly rescue this child safely from a madman and apprehend the suspect. Fortunately, the child was not hurt and was quickly reunited with his mother.”

Leohner was arrested and charged with kidnapping, using a minor as a shield, resisting with violence, child neglect, fleeing and eluding, and reckless driving.