Suspect who kidnapped 3-year old in stolen SUV in Upper Marlboro charged
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. - An 18-year-old man is facing charges for kidnapping a 3-year-old child in Prince George's County Thursday night prompting an Amber Alert, after a hit-and-run crash helped lead to his arrest.
According to the Prince George’s County Police Department the incident happened around 6:20 p.m. at the Royal Farms gas station in the 5300 block of Ritchie Marlboro Road in Upper Marlboro. Investigators say the suspect, identified as Ariel Florentino-Galeas, 18, of Hyattsville, jumped into the victim’s running 2015 Nissan Armada SUV and took off from the scene.
Police said the child, who was identified as Blake Alexander Morgan, was in the backseat of the vehicle at the time. According to police, the vehicle belonged to Blake's grandfather, who immediately called 9-1-1 after realizing the car was gone.
Ariel Florentino-Galeas, 18, of Hyattsville, Maryland. (PHOTO: Prince George's County Police Department)
About two hours later, a driver called authorities reporting that they were the victim of a hit-and-run in the area of 56th Avenue and Hamilton Street in Riverdale. The driver described the striking vehicle, and police matched it to the stolen SUV.
Officers responded to the scene of the crash, and with the help of aerial patrols, they found the SUV abandoned in the 5300 block of Farragut Street.
Police said Blake was found alone in the car, unharmed. He was quickly reunited with his family.
After locating Blake, police continued their search for Florentino-Galeas, and he was eventually taken into custody around 8:35 p.m.
According to police, Florentino-Galeas remains in custody. He faces several charged related to the incident, including kidnapping, reckless endangerment, theft, and unauthorized removal of a motor vehicle.
An Amber Alert went out during this emergency. CTIA, which represents the Wireless Carrier Industry, explains that alerts are sent to a specific, geographic area.
But, in this situation, some T-Mobile customers said they did not get the Amber Alert until Friday morning, as they were passing through by Prince George’s County, which was well after the alert was canceled.
T-Mobile released the following statement about what happened:
"We appreciate you following-up about this. We deliver Amber Alerts as quickly as possible after they come to us until they expire or are cancelled by the originator. Our records indicate this alert was transmitted as issued in the state of Maryland and cancelled as per direction from National Amber Operations. Customers on towers near the state line would have also received the alert. Alerts will repeat on handsets until they are acknowledged, and we encourage our customers to ensure their device settings are set to receive these important notifications (Settings > Notifications > Government Alerts for iPhone or Wireless Emergency Alerts for Android). We have information for our customers on wireless emergency alerts here."
FOX 5 also spoke with an Executive Director at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who believes the delay in alert may have been due to a technical glitch. FOX 5 is also told glitches can have a serious impact in the fight to support missing children.
"That’s an area carriers of aware of and will work to resolve. For us the main concern we have is that individuals end up turning off the Amber Alert or ability to receive Amber Alert because they think it’s an annoyance and we don’t want that to happen because Amber Alerts are very effective," said Alan Nanavaty, with NCMEC. He encourages everyone to help keep an eye-out an regularly view their missing children reports.
On Friday, FOX 5 learned the 18-year-old suspect arrested in this theft and kidnapping chase, was apparently just let out from custody the very same day Prince George’s County Police arrested him for the theft and kidnapping.
Court documents shared with FOX 5 say Florentino-Galeas allegedly stole over $1,000-worth of power tools on February 13th, and that victim later found one of the stolen tools for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Officials say the victim bought back his stolen tool, sharing that information with police.
Charging documents also say the 18-year-old was arrested in connection with this crime on February 22.
According to Maryland Case Search, the 18-year-old was released sometime Thursday on his own recognizance and with no bail. Then, at around 6:30 p.m. police say he allegedly stole the Nissan SUV with 3-year-old Blake Morgan still inside.
READ MORE: 3-year-old taken from Upper Marlboro gas station in stolen SUV found: police
The incident remains under investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call PGPD at 301-390-2160.