South Bend police name man accused of stealing car with boy in the backseat

James Brown // Photo provided

A man in custody after South Bend police say he stole a car with a 3-year old boy in the backseat has been identified as 28-year-old James Brown.

The child is safe and back with is family.

The toddler was found still in the car. Police say he may have slept through it all, but his family didn't.

His grandmother Linda Nelson described getting the phone call about the carjacking.

"I couldn't understand anything she was saying. All I could hear her say was 'Jahvell gone'. That's all I heard," said Nelson. "I just went numb. All I could do was get to my grandbaby. I just went numb."

Jahvell's mother was inside a gas station when police say Brown got into her car and drove off with Jahvell in the back seat.

Police searched for 45 minutes.

"We were getting concerned because the time kept going," said Lieutenant Gene Eyster with the South Bend Police Department.

Police spotted the car near the intersection of Sample and Mayflower.

The suspect pulled over and ran into Eby's Old Fashioned Meat Market.

The store's evening manager Kathie McRoberts said the suspect was quickly apprehended.

"We thought he was just looking for somebody, and all of a sudden we turned around and it looked like all hell broke loose. It was like, 'oh my god where did all these cops from?'" said McRoberts.

From there police say Brown was taken to the hospital in handcuffs.

Police say Brown appeared to be under the influence of a substance.

Police are still investigating.

Jahvell's family is thankful for their efforts and are feeling a very different emotion than when they first got the call.

"Joy, nothing but joy. I thank the Lord for reacting as fast with the police department as he did. They went up and down every street to make sure they found her car with her baby," said Nelson.

The Pokagon Police and the St. Joseph County Police helped the South Bend Police Department with the search.

Police do not know if the car was running at the time of the carjacking, but say Brown did have access to the keys.

Police say this should serve as a warning to never leave your keys in the car.

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