It’s the sight Tanya Baca worried she’d never see again as she held her nine-month-old son in her arms back in her home on Thursday, Jan. 4.
In the neighboring rooms, her five other children under the age of 12 were overjoyed to be under one roof.
“It was like a dream – like that didn’t happen to us,” Baca said.
They were one day removed from a nightmare.
“It was me and my six boys. Yeah. It was scary,” she somberly told Tucson News Now after describing the chaos in their car.
On Wednesday, Jan. 3, they were on a route they take daily. Baca said she had clocked out from work on her graveyard shift and was taking the kids to day care so she could get some rest.
According to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Baca was stopped at the stop sign of West Drexel Road and South Calle Santa Cruz on the south side of Tucson when she found herself staring down the barrel of a gun, with at least two men forcing her out of her Ford Expedition.
The incident started around 9 a.m. in the 4600 block of West Calle Don Tomas when deputies found the suspects attempting to remove license plates from several cars in the neighborhood. When deputies approached, they drove off in another vehicle.
Deputies followed 25-year-old Fabian Garcia and 22-year-old Antonio Morales Jr. to West Drexel Road and South Calle Santa Cruz where they said they saw the men use a gun to force Baca and her six children out of the car.
“And I just kept saying, ‘Can I get my baby out? Can I please get my baby out?'” Baca said. “I’m just screaming. My (oldest) son was trying to stay there with him. As the vehicle is still moving, he’s trying to not leave his brother. I’m just like, ‘You’ve got to get out of the way. These guys have guns. You’ve got to move.'”
In the panic and hurry, her infant son was left behind in the car and the suspects drove away. Deputies followed, finding out that the child was still inside.
“You don’t prepare yourself for that ever. You really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Baca said.
Adam Morgan, the nine-month-old child’s father who was at work and later told of what happened, comforted and praised Baca’s decision.
“She’s not going to be any good to a bunch of boys if she’s dead. I think she did the right thing. I think she didn’t really have a choice. When all that’s happening, you have to go with your instinct and her’s was right on the money,” Morgan said.
It was a decision to let the officers handle it, and handle it they did. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department told us deputies caught the two alleged criminals.
In a news release, they said the stolen vehicle was driving erratically and suffered damage. Losing a tire was what eventually forced the suspects to come to a stop near South Country Club Road and East Fairland Stravenue. The suspects ran off and they were found and arrested a short time later.
Despite the terrifying ordeal, Baca’s infant son was found safe by deputies.
Baca said the damage to her car is extensive and insurance would not cover the cost. Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the additional expense.
She spent much of the rest of the day trying to catch her breath, as they all laid down to rest Wednesday night.
“Never. Never in a million years would I think it would be us,” she said. “I just said a prayer for them (Wednesday) night and thanked God. We’re all alive and it could’ve been worse.”
On Thursday, able to breathe a sigh-of-relief, the thankful family was back in their welcoming home and safe under one roof.
“Yeah, I think (my son) definitely had a guardian angel,” Morgan said. “Someone up there was looking out for him.”