A 16-year-old Seattle girl and her baby brother were taken on a terrifying, high-speed ride through North Seattle in early October, police say, after a man and woman got into their mother’s running BMW and took off, dragging the children’s father several blocks before he was forced to let go of the car.
The children were not hurt and were left inside the car when the man, who had dropped off his female passenger, pulled over and walked away, police said. A male suspect was charged in the case last week with kidnapping and assault.
“I thought the worst because so many bad things happen. There are so many crazy people on the street who are armed,” the children’s father, Hector Cordova Vazquez, 40, said in Spanish on Thursday as he recalled how scared he was when he saw the car drive off.
Cordova Vazquez said he tried to stop the car and was able to open the driver’s door and grab the steering wheel. The driver pushed him, he said, and he was dragged south along Lake City Way Northeast to 15th Avenue Northeast — not quite a half mile — before he was forced to let go.
Cordova Vazquez was later taken to the hospital in an ambulance to be treated for injuries to his feet and legs, and said he spent the next 12 days in bed.
“I’m a bit better…it was intense pain,” he said, in between taking orders at the food truck where he works. As for his children, both are doing OK, “but my daughter is not the same as before. It affected her emotionally,” he said.
According to jail and court records, the suspect — Mumin Hussein, 36 — was arrested in Lake City on Oct. 14 while driving a different stolen car and was booked into the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent on a state Department of Corrections hold for violating conditions of his community custody.
A week later, Hussein was identified as the man who stole the BMW with the teen and infant inside from a fingerprint found on the top of the vehicle’s gear shift, according to Seattle police. He was charged Oct. 31 with first-degree kidnapping of the children, and with second-degree assault in connection with the injuries to their father, charging papers say. He remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.
According to the charges:
Just before 7 p.m. on Oct. 2, the children’s mother parked her BMW on Northeast 88th Street in the Maple Leaf neighborhood and walked to a nearby Shell gas station in the 8700 block of Lake City Way Northeast to see her husband, who was working in a food truck parked there. Her daughter and son were in the back seat, and she left the engine running to keep the interior warm for her kids.
A minute later, she saw an unknown man and woman approach the unlocked BMW and get inside, the man behind the wheel and the woman in the front passenger seat. As the car headed west on Northeast 88th Street, the woman alerted her husband, who ran after the BMW and was able to open the driver’s door and grab onto the steering wheel. The driver stomped on the gas and dragged the father for several blocks at speeds up to 60 mph, the charges say. The father, who could hear his daughter’s screams, was eventually forced to let go. Despite suffering extensive cuts and scrapes to his legs and feet, he ran back to the Shell station, where his wife was calling 911.
At some point, the female passenger told the driver she didn’t want to be involved and he stopped the car and let her out. As he continued to drive, the teenager yelled out the window for help several times and the driver told her to get out of the car but she refused because she didn’t want to leave her brother. The girl pulled out her cellphone and began video recording the driver, the charges say.
Seattle police have previously said they believe the man drove for about 15 minutes before pulling over at Northeast 123rd Street and 33rd Avenue Northeast in Lake City, which is two miles north of the gas station. The girl later told police the driver parked the car and walked off westbound. She couldn’t get hold of her mother, so phoned a friend whose mother was able to get in contact with the girl’s mother and let her know the children were safe. The children’s mother and Seattle police arrived at the BMW’s location soon after.
In addition to the girl’s cellphone video, police obtained video footage from the gas station and from a camera mounted inside a witness’s vehicle, which showed the man and woman getting into the BMW and the children’s parents chasing after the car, according to the charges.
After Hussein was identified as the driver from his fingerprint on the gear shift, detectives compared his booking photo to the video footage and determined he appeared to be the same man, the charges say.
It was not clear Thursday whether police had identified the female passenger or whether she would face charges in the case.
Court records show Hussein, who is homeless, has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2004 with convictions for taking a motor vehicle without permission, unlawful possession of a firearm, domestic-violence offenses, felony drug charges, and several driving offenses, including hit and run, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and driving with a suspended license.
Seattle Times desk editor Agnes Torres Al-Shibibi contributed to this story.