A Brownsburg firefighter was visiting the downtown branch of the Indianapolis Public Library with his children Sunday afternoon when a man with a baby in his arms rushed past him.
“The first thing that cued me was the way he was carrying the baby,” said Kevin Whitt, a battalion chief with the Brownsburg Fire Department. “I thought as I carry one of my kids, that’s not how I do it. It was not natural.”
Not only was Robert Norris, 18, hurriedly passing by with the child tight against his chest, he also kept looking over his shoulder.
“He was again in more of a hurry than someone who would be just leaving the library,” said Whitt, “but he continued to look over his shoulder as if someone was chasing him.”
Within minutes someone would. Not only White but the baby’s mother, Rodricia Snow, her friend and several Indianapolis Metro police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
Snow told police that she argued with Norris during visitation with the child at the library and he grabbed the infant from a friend’s arms and ran.
Whitt watched Morris dash down the library’s front steps.
“I yelled for him to stop and tried to ask him what he was doing,” said Whitt after he locked his children in his own car for their safety. “He made a few comments to me. He actually stopped because his hat fell off at this point and he made some comments to me that he might actually bring some harm to the child. (He) mentioned something about a dumpster.”
Worried about his own kids, and a rambunctious 5-year-old who might want to join his dad in the chase, Whitt returned to the library where he found Snow and Tracy Brown frantic on the steps.
Whitt called 911 and provided officers with a description of the suspect. Officers swarmed downtown within minutes.
A bloodhound tracking dog later led searchers to a building a couple blocks away where Norris and child were discovered unharmed.
“All I could think about was doing whatever I could at the time for that little girl and that’s what I would encourage anybody to do,” Whitt said.
Norris was arrested. He was living at a downtown homeless shelter.
Snow and her child were living at another shelter.