Palm Coast man arrested, accused of kidnapping child

Body camera footage shows the shocking moments a Flagler County man used his own one-year-old as a human shield. Sheriff Rick Staly said this started as a domestic dispute, when the man abducted the child.

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A 27-year-old man, accused of abducting a small child and leading deputies on a chase ending in a standoff, is facing charges of kidnapping and using a minor as a human shield.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly says the standoff started as a domestic dispute and a chase that ended at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Palm Coast.

“Holding a 1-year-old child, in the center of your chest. Clearly, he’s using the child as a shield,” Staly said during an interview with Inside Edition.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Brandon Matthew Douglas Leohner abducted the child while armed with a handgun and was driving with the child in his lap as he left the residence. They said after attempting to conduct a traffic stop, he drove into the parking lot of a McDonald’s and that Leohner refused to obey commands to put the child down. Leohner was tasered, and the child was not injured.

Staly said it was a difficult move.

“When you fire a Taser, you’re sending out two prongs,” Staly said. “Fortunately, one prong hit the suspect in the leg, and the other one in his chest area, but away from the baby.

Leohner was taken into custody. The child was soon reunited with their mother.


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Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.