Man accused of crashing stolen car with baby inside facing federal charges

Mom grateful baby boy survived violent crash after man stole car at gunpoint

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A man accused of crashing a stolen car with a 1-year-old boy inside last Thursday is now facing federal charges.

Police said the carjacking happened after Maurice Rakestraw, 29, who was a passenger in another vehicle, ran away from an officer during a traffic stop on Albemarle Road.

[CMPD: Man accused of stealing van with 1-year-old inside arrested in SC]

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According to federal paperwork, the officer was only 40-yards behind Rakestraw when he reportedly ran to a nearby apartment complex, held a couple at gunpoint and stole their car with their baby son inside.

<p>Maurice Rakestraw</p>

Maurice Rakestraw

(Rakestraw)

Police said after Rakestraw jumped into the woman's car, he threw the gun out the window and sped off.

The stolen car eventually crashed into a truck and flipped about 3 miles away on Eastway Drive, near Merry Oaks International Academy.

Officers told Channel 9 that after the crash, Rakestraw tried to run toward the school, where nearly 100 children were outside playing at recess, but he was caught.

Police said the 1-year-old boy had to be pulled out of the wreckage. He was found strapped into his car seat and is expected to be OK. Police said he was reunited with his mother.

"A lot of us are parents and it infuriates us," CMPD Captain Dave Harris said.

Rakestraw was charged with first-degree kidnapping, three counts of armed robbery, felony hit-and-run, misdemeanor hit-and-run, felony flee to elude, larceny of a motor vehicle, firearm by a felon, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm on educational property and resist/obstruct/delay.

He also had multiple outstanding warrants.

In terms of federal charges, he is facing carjacking, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon charges.

"I just wanted him to be back with me again"

On Friday, the woman who was carjacked spoke with Channel 9 reporter Tina Terry, telling her it was a miracle her child survived.

Gissel Padilla said she is grateful her baby boy is alive.

Padilla said she and her husband were in the parking lot of their apartment complex, putting their son Isaac into his car seat when Rakestraw came out of nowhere and pointed a gun at her husband's head, demanding the keys to the car.

"My husband told me in a slow voice to  get in the car," Padilla said. "After I put the seatbelt on my child, I closed the back door and saw the suspect with his gun telling my husband to give up the car or he was going to die."

She said they tried to tell the thief that their baby boy was inside the car, but they don't speak English.

Rakestraw stole the car and sped off with the child strapped inside, crashing and flipping the car 3 miles away.

"I asked God just to take care of him because I thought that I was gonna lose my life," Padilla told Channel 9. "I just wanted him to be back with me again."

Fortunately, Padilla was able to buckle Isaac into his car seat before the vehicle was stolen, and he survived the crash without a scratch.

Rakestraw was charged with first-degree kidnapping, three counts of armed robbery, felony hit-and-run, misdemeanor hit-and-run, felony flee to elude, larceny of a motor vehicle, firearm by a felon, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm on educational property and resist/obstruct/delay.

He also had multiple outstanding warrants.

New records show just two days ago Rakestraw was accused of beating up a woman and stealing her car. Police said they tried to pull him over on Albemarle Road on Thursday, but that led to a foot chase and the dangerous encounter with Padilla.

"When I saw him leaving with my child, I ran after the car," Padilla said.

Neighbor Neil Moser said he heard the crash outside his home.

"I heard the usual sound of a crash, so I looked out to see what it was," he said. "I was more than shocked."

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the scene and could see the car overturned in the middle of the road as officers canvassed the scene.

The school was placed on a brief lockdown.

"It's disturbing to hear it happened so close to my daughter's school -- happy police caught guy," one parent said.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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