Deputy saves kids from stolen truck: ‘I’m glad I was there’

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 12:16 AM PDT
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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFTS) - Quick thinking by a Florida deputy foiled both an alleged car theft and the kidnapping of two brothers in an incident captured on his body-worn camera.

Hillsborough County Deputy Jonathan Pazmino-Alvarez was working a separate call last Monday around 6:40 p.m. when he heard a plea from a father that shocked him.

“It was so quick. It happened within minutes,” Pazmino-Alvarez said. “Out of nowhere, we see this gentleman running behind his truck, yelling, ‘He just took my truck with my kids.’”

Body camera footage shows Pazmino-Alvarez get into his squad car to follow the truck, calling for the driver to pull over. He approached after the truck stopped. Inside were two boys, ages 8 and 4.

“They were crying. They were super upset. And as soon as they saw me, they lined up, they stopped crying and they pointed out like, ‘He’s not my father,’” the deputy said.

It’s unclear if the suspect, identified as 37-year-old Kevin Smith, knew the children were in the truck when he allegedly stole it. Pazmino-Alvarez says Smith didn’t say anything after he was read his Miranda Rights.

Despite that, the deputy says the way he handled the incident changed because of the kids.

“Typically for any high-risk call, we will have to draw our guns out and make sure that we got every person out of the vehicle one by one. But knowing that there were kids there, I didn’t want this person in front of the wheel to do anything irrational that could harm the kids,” he said.

Pazmino-Alvarez previously taught kids swimming, which made this particular call special to him, and he’s glad it ended the way it did.

“At that moment, I talked to the dad, who was so brave. He just said to me, ‘I’m so glad you were there,’ and I looked back and said ‘Wow, I’m glad I was there, too,’” he said.

Smith is being held without bond. He faces one count of grand theft of a motor vehicle and two counts of felony kidnapping.