It all came down to a mother’s instincts.
An Albuquerque woman on Wednesday hopped into her car and for seven miles chased the man suspected of kidnapping her daughter.
The pursuit by Melissa Torrez ended only after her car collided with the suspect’s. The man, later identified as David Jesus Hernandez, escaped on foot, leading to a manhunt and eventually his arrest, authorities said.
Hernandez, 31, had turned himself in to police in the suburb in Rio Rancho on Thursday after seeing his picture on television, Albuquerque Police Officer Tasia Martinez told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
“He claimed innocence to media cameras, but refused to speak in [an] interview” with authorities, Martinez said.
The chase began about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at an apartment complex northwest of downtown Albuquerque.
The 4-year-old girl was playing in her yard when a man in a silver Buick allegedly pulled up and snatched her, Martinez said. Other children who were nearby alerted the girl’s mother, who called police and then gave chase.
What Torrez didn’t see, police said, was that the suspect had shoved the little girl out of the car before leaving the apartment complex. The girl was later found unhurt.
Albuquerque officers and New Mexico State Police had set up a perimeter but were unable to locate the suspect.
Torrez, 27, and a mother of three, said she was going on instinct and adrenaline.
“My mind went black. I grabbed my keys,” she told the Associated Press on Friday. “I just got in my car and I ... went looking for her.”
Martinez said investigators are looking into whether Hernandez was involved with the reported kidnapping and sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl taken last week from the same apartment complex. In that case, the suspect was reported to be a man in a silver or gray vehicle.