The man who took his daughter from a day care and then led police on a chase-turned-standoff in northwest Harris County will face a murder charge in the death of the 2-year-old girl, authorities said.
Deontray Flanagan was taken into custody after being surrounded by a SWAT team on Monday.
The 25-year-old is charged with murder, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. He was booked into the Harris County Jail.
The suspect Deontray Flanagan (2-9-98) has been charged with murder and booked in the Harris County Jail. #HouNews https://t.co/uCNHVrkQgm
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) March 20, 2023
Relatives identified the 2-year-old girl as Zevaya Flanagan.
The father reportedly told investigators the toddler sustained her injuries from being tossed around during the chase, but sources say she had severe head trauma. Additionally, there were reports she was being strangled during the pursuit. An autopsy will determine exactly how she died.
It all started around 10:15 a.m. Monday when Flanagan went into a private day care and took his daughter, Gonzalez said.
Flanagan then went into a nearby Walmart, where the child’s mother works, and confronted her, asking for her phone and passcode and threatening to hurt the child, HCSO said.
The mother complied and tried to rescue her daughter but was unable to, according to Gonzalez.
The suspect allegedly hit the mother multiple times in the face and left with her phone before driving off in a red Camaro, prompting a chase with deputies.
Deputies said that at some point during the chase, the mom was able to FaceTime the suspect to try to get him to stop, but failed.
The chase ended after Flanagan reportedly crashed into other cars and stopped in a field at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church near Stuebner Airline and Veterans Memorial, sparking a standoff.
SWAT officers surrounded the vehicle and after about 20 minutes, they moved in. The toddler was rushed from the car by authorities, and Flanagan was yanked out to be taken into custody.
Once the father was in custody, officials tried to save the life of the 2-year-old girl. She was taken to the hospital via Life Flight, where she was pronounced dead from her injuries.
“As a father, as just a human being, for anyone to use a child, a precious defenseless child, just 2 years old. It just broke my heart to see her injured,” Gonzalez said.
Flanagan has a criminal history dating back to 2017.
According to court records, he was charged with evading arrest nearly six years ago.
In 2018, Flanagan was charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member and sentenced to 30 days in jail. During the same year, he was also charged with criminal mischief for driving a car into someone’s home. Records show he is still on probation for that charge.