Anthony Milhomme popped into a Little Haiti grocery store about 2:20 p.m. Monday, leaving the three young children he’d just fetched from Morningside Elementary School inside a car with the motor running.
Moments later, the car was gone, son Anthony Milhomme, 5, daughter Kaila Milhomme, 6, and their cousin, Isaiah Paul, also 6, along with it.
Less than three frantic hours later, Miami police arrested the woman driving Milhomme’s gray, 2005 Ford 500 on Northwest 58th Street between First and Second avenues, about four blocks from the St. Jacques Market, 125 NW 62nd St., where the elder Milhomme had parked.
Police reunited the children with their moms, then whisked them all to police headquarters.
Both the driver and the elder Milhomme, 34, of the 500 block of Northeast 68th Street, headed there too — in handcuffs.
The driver, Velan Verdier, 33, of the 500 block of Meridian Avenue in Miami Beach, is facing one count of grand theft/auto, three counts of abduction, and one count of armed robbery.
Police says she “took by force $5 from one of the scared and helpless children.’’
A police department said that an investigation revealed that Milhomme left the children for 15 minutes, “contrary his statement of just two minutes.’’
So in addition to three counts of child neglect, he’s also facing one count of obstruction.
“It’s a lesson for us all,’’ said police spokesman Detective William Moreno. “We lock up our cellphones and our purses, but we leave a child in a running car.’’
As officers searched the surrounding blocks, a “Good Samaritan’’ had reported the car’s location, Moreno said.
Sharonda Scott, the siblings’ mom, and her sister-in-law, Isaiah’s mom, Alina Milhomme, waited nervously outside the grocery store as police brought in a mobile command center.
About 4:40 p.m., squad cars peeled away from the mobile unit, sirens blaring. Within minutes, Moreno announced that police had found the car and the children were safe.
Elisna Milhomme, the three childrens’ grandmother, who lives in the neighborhood, didn’t know why her son, Anthony, stopped at the market, but said the children often want snacks after school.
She said that the market’s owner saw “a girl’’ get into the car and drive away.
“Anthony loves those kids,’’ she said.