DeKalb County

‘Back in our arms:’ Aunt gives harrowing account of moments police say 1-year-old was kidnapped

CHAMBLEE, Ga. — Chamblee police have confirmed that a 1-year-old boy who was kidnapped at gunpoint on Saturday as his mother walked him in a stroller has been found safe.

Police arrested a married couple, Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga and Kristin Nicole Valera Zuniga, in connection to the kidnapping. The couple’s motive is unclear.

Police say the child, Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera, was found unharmed with the suspects in Carroll County around 5 p.m. after state troopers pulled them over.

Police said the boy was reunited with his mother at the Chamblee Police Department Saturday evening around 6 p.m.

The incident unfolded Saturday around 12:30 p.m. at the Balfour Chamblee Apartments on Clairview Drive. The boy’s mother, Leslie Bamaca, told police she was walking Mateo in his stroller near their apartment when a man got out of an Acura SUV and pointed a gun at her.

Chamblee police said Leslie Bamaca was able to grab the gun from the man and tried to shoot him, but the gun didn’t go off. She ripped his pants and took one of his shoes.

A second suspect then got out of the SUV’s passenger seat and grabbed the child. The two suspects took off in an Acura SUV toward I-85.

Police arrested and charged Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga and Kristin Nicole Valera Zuniga. The couple faces charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and battery, according to DeKalb County jail records.


Channel 2′s Michael Seiden talked to Jessica Bamaca, Mateo’s aunt and Leslie Bamaca’s sister.

Jessica Bamaca lives with her sister, her nephew and baby Mateo’s father, Erick Montufar. Jessica Bamaca said the family is beyond grateful to have her nephew home.

“I thank God for the opportunity to see him again,” Bamaca said. “We’re just so grateful toward him and toward all the people who helped us out as well. It feels comforting that he’s finally home.”

Jessica Bamaca said she heard her sister scream her name around 12:30 p.m and she ran outside.

Jessica Bamaca said her sister was bleeding and crying and said someone had kidnapped her son.

“From there on, it was just a nightmare for five hours until finally, we got the news that they had found him, and that they were taking him back to the police station to be reunited with my sister and his father,” Jessica Bamaca said.

Jessica Bamaca said she thinks her sister was throwing away the trash and was just going for an afternoon walk, when all of a sudden, a car pulled up. Jessica Bamaca said a man got out of the car and immediately started trying to take the baby out of the stroller.

As Leslie Bamaca fought with one suspect, the other took the baby.

Jessica Bamaca said the suspects were complete strangers.

“We have no idea who they are. It’s the first time we’ve seen them,” Jessica Bamaca said. “We don’t know where they came from. We don’t know what their intentions were.”

Jessica Bamaca said her sister fought back as any mother would.

“She fought back with all her strength. She fought back until the last second,” Jessica Bamaca said. “She put herself in front of that car. She ran behind that car. She did all she could.”

Jessica Bamaca said her family is thankful to God that Mateo is safe.

“What I took away personally from this was that God has total, complete control of our lives,” Jessica Bamaca said. “This is something that was out of our control so we gave it 100% to him, and we give him honor and glory for letting us have him back in our arms.”

Jessica Bamaca said that when police found Mateo with the suspects in Carroll County, they had dressed him up like a girl to disguise him.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case.

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