Two children reported missing from a location along U.S. 231 in Cottondale Tuesday were found unharmed on Wednesday with their father in Macon, Georgia.
Their father, Jonathan Gonzalez, 40, was taken into custody on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm, because he allegedly pulled his wife out of the family vehicle before leaving her by the side of U.S. 231 in Cottondale and driving away with their 12-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter early Tuesday morning.
Authorities disclosed that circumstance and other details after the children were found.
Officials say the man’s wife reported that she was behind the wheel as the family traveled around in search of a medical facility for Mr. Gonzalez early Tuesday, because he’d been struck in the head the night before in an altercation that occurred in Bay County.
She told officials that he suddenly “began acting very strange and out of character,” according to a press release issued by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday.
The agency further reports that she said he’d become “extremely paranoid they were being followed by other vehicles and being tracked by devices planted in their car.” He reportedly armed himself with a pistol and pointed it at his wife while threatening her. She said she pulled to the side of the road and that her husband then got out, went to the driver’s side and pulled her out at gunpoint before driving away with the children.
Surrounding agencies in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were notified and joined in the search for Gonzalez and the children. They were found around 11:15 a.m. in Macon. Gonzalez was taken into custody without incident.
Jackson County Sheriff Donnie Edenfield said in the release that assistance from the other agencies involved was crucial in bringing the situation to a peaceful resolution.
“Multiple investigative tools were employed to locate the suspect, including the application for numerous search warrants and subpoenas,” the release stated. “Sheriff Edenfield would like to thank every agency that played a vital role in assisting with the recovery of the children and the apprehension of the suspect,” it continued. “Sheriff Edenfield is especially grateful to FDLE and the Southeast Regional U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Caribbean Regional U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office , the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and all other agencies in Florida, Georgia and Alabama that assisted. This is a great example of how working together with our law enforcement partners can bring a swift end to a very serious situation,” it concluded.