LANCASTER – A 5-year-old boy abducted from a hotel in San Diego County was found safe at a Lancaster home shortly after an AMBER Alert was issued, authorities said.
Johnnie Melendez Jr. was reunited with his family at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station late Sunday afternoon.
The boy’s mother, Gladys Suarez, was arrested for kidnapping by National City Police.
National City Police said Gladys Suarez allegedly kidnapped the boy from the Sweetwater Inn at 2435 Sweetwater Road, and the boy’s father discovered him missing around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
“After searching for about an hour and a half, the father called the police. Officers responded and learned that a male subject from the hotel had given the mother and child a ride to the Shell Gas Station off of the Leucadia Blvd exit in Encinitas,” Sgt. Mike Harlan said in a statement.
“[The mother] made a statement to the father via cellular phone to effect of, ‘you’re never going to see him again’, and if she could not have the child then no one can,” Sgt. Harlan stated.
An AMBER Alert was issued Sunday morning, which included pictures of Gladys Suarez and the boy.
“Gladys Suarez contacted the Los Angeles [County] Sheriff’s Station in Lancaster after seeing the AMBER Alert. Johnnie Melendez Jr. was located at a residence in Lancaster and recovered unharmed,” Sgt. Harlan stated.
Gladys Suarez was transported to the San Diego County jail, where she was booked around 9 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of kidnapping and held in lieu of $100,000 bail.