WHEATON, Md. (WJLA) - A pit stop to the gas pump ended in a botched carjacking that involved irreplaceable cargo.
Shortly after 6 p.m. January 25, Dewitt Mathews pulled into the Exxon gas station at the corner of University Boulevard W. and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. It was a chilly Saturday evening. Mathews left the keys in the ignition and his five-year-old son in the back seat while re-fueling. Thinking the doors to his 2007 Nissan Maxima were locked, Mathews walked inside to pay the clerk. When he returned to the pump, his car and son were gone.
Surveillance video provided to ABC7 News, shows a parental nightmare subsequently unfold before your eyes. Mathews was recorded running in circles, hysterically flailing his hands, looking in every direction for his blue foor-door sedan and young son, but to no immediate avail. The stunned father then hustled back to the clerk counter where he yelled, "call 911."
Christian Arias, 25, of Silver Spring, investigators say, is the lone man responsible for the pandemonium. In fact, surveillance video proves it, they add.
While Mathews sifted through the refreshment aisle inside the gas station, video captured Arias, who arrived on a motorized scooter, tip-toeing his way behind a gas pump. He peeked his eyes around the pump's metal edge before opening Mathews' driver-side door. The 25-year-old then allegedly sped-off, kid and all.
"He was a regular customer actually," Wheaton Exxon gas station owner Hank Kim remarked. "I was surprised as to why he did that."
More surprising however, was Arias' return to the crime scene --- a mere seven minutes after the former convict reportedly zipped away. Security footage shows Arias calmly strut back to the gas station and mount his scooter, still parked in its original spot. If not for a vigilant herd of patrons that huddled around the 5'9" 198 pound suspect, Arias likely would have escaped before responding squad cars arrived.
"I can tell you are proud of your customers," ABC7's Kevin Lewis said. "I am. I'm very proud of them because they're caring," Kim responded.
Although Arias reportedly went mum at the police station, detectives say he initially pointed officers to the child and car, both parked across the street from the gas station. The five-year-old found sobbing, but uninjured.
According to Montgomery County District Court records, Arias resides with his mother in the 1800 block of Cody Drive, in Silver Spring's Forest Estates neighborhood. Despite a light on inside the modest brick bungalow, no one answered the door.
"Oh gosh! Wow," neighbor Kim Robinson exclaimed. "That's really amazing. You just don't think of a neighbor doing something like that."
Arias, who according to charging documents, "smelled strongly of alcohol," and later blew a .14 BAC, has a lengthy criminal record. His Maryland rap sheet is riddled with burglaries, thefts, and other carjackings.
If convicted to the full extent of the law, the 25-year-old could be locked away until his 88th birthday.
"I take care of you, and you take care of me. That's how we're supposed to do life," Kim concluded. "My customers did a great thing."