Police in Alabama have issued a kidnapping arrest warrant in the case of Aniah Blanchard, the missing 19-year-old stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris.
Auburn Police Chief Paul Register said at a news conference on Thursday that police are seeking 30-year-old Montgomery native Ibraheem Yazeed on first-degree kidnapping charges, Alabama.com reports. Yazeed is known to have been at the last location Blanchard was seen and is suspected of taking her forcibly, according to police.
Blanchard was last seen in Auburn on Oct. 23.
Suspect arrested after attempt to flee
Update (11/8 8:00 a.m. ET): Yazeed was arrested late Thursday night on Interstate 10 in Escambia County, Florida, according to the Associated Press. The county borders Alabama on the peninsula.
U.S. marshals called local Escambia sheriff deputies to help with the arrest, Maj. Andrew Hobbs said.
“When we arrived, the suspect fled the area, but he was located by Escambia sheriff’s officers and marshals in a wooded area near the exit,” Hobbs said, via the AP.
The marshals reportedly handcuffed him and took him into custody. Yazeed left in an ambulance and has a swollen left eye in the booking photo shared by the AP.
Suspect faced separate attempted murder charge
Yazeed is out on bond after being arrested earlier this year along with others on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and first-degree robbery. A 77-year-old man was left severely beaten in that incident.
“It’s very concerning to know that someone who has committed that sort of crime was out and in our community,” Register told reporters. “We think this is someone who should be in custody.”
Police suspect that Yazeed abducted Blanchard as part of a carjacking. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force is working with other agencies to find Yazeed, whom police consider armed and dangerous. He could face additional charges, according to Auburn police.
Rally to find Blanchard
The UFC community has rallied around Harris in the search for Blanchard. UFC president Dana White has donated $25,000 to a reward fund and tweeted out a call searching for Yazeed when he was identified as a person of interest on Wednesday.
Harris and his wife and Blanchard’s mother Angela Harris made a plea on local news last week seeking help to find Blanchard.
“There are just a lot of things that don't add up for us as parents,” Walt Harris told WFSA last Thursday. “We just really, really want to know.”
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