It’s not often you hear about instances where the police call a citizen for help, but in this strange turn of events that avoided tragedy and saved two lives, that’s an accurate description of what led to the success of stopping a senseless act of self-harm and violence in Brooklyn, New York.
A Brooklyn mother who was suffering from postpartum-depression had nearly succeeded in taking her own life, as well as the life of her 6-month old child. By some miracle, a gun shop owner from the Poconos and a quick-on-their-feet NYPD officer managed to work together to foil the mother’s intended plot.
The mother, who lives in Pennsylvania, but who had been staying with family in Brooklyn, picked her daughter up from daycare early on Friday. After scooping up her kid, that’s when the disturbing messages starting getting sent to her own mother, Latika Thorpe, and to her sister, according to a report from the Post.
The woman, whose name is being withheld, sent messages like, “Can’t go on like this anymore,” and had implied that she intended to kill herself and her baby.
After the family started getting the strange cries for help, they contacted the NYPD for assistance. They explained that the new mom had been depressed after the birth of her daughter and wasn’t answering her phone and might be headed to home to Pennsylvania to kill herself and the baby.
Officer Michelle Schack and her partner Officer Gulrej Nandha rushed to the family’s Canarsie home.
When recounting the events to local news, Officer Schack stated, “Time was of the essence. We gotta stop this woman somehow and she has a baby and herself to think about. We were able to use our department cell phones to track the vehicle and we saw it was going over the Verrazano Bridge”
Latika Thorpe confirmed that was the route the young mother took to get home to her Pennsylvania house.
Schack made a mental list of options.
She could activate an Amber Alert with the New York State Police, and beyond that, hope someone would find them. But then the woman’s sister Latika expressed her concern to the officer over how easy it was to get a gun in Pennsylvania if she intended on harm to herself or her child.
That’s when things began to click, according to Schack.
“That’s when I just started quick thinking, ‘Let’s call gun shops.’ That’s most likely where she was heading to.”
She asked Thorpe if there were any on the way to the family’s Poconos home, but she wasn’t sure. Well, when using Google, Schack had located a shop called Pocono Mountain Firearms in Scotrun, which was right on the woman’s drive home.
Today, when a mother in crisis went missing with her 6 m/o baby, concerned family members called 911. A quick-thinking @NYPDPSA1 cop started calling gun stores in the area they thought she was going to. A keen-eyed gun store worker recognized her. Mom & baby are now both safe. pic.twitter.com/GbLfi0fQLd
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Schack called the owner to see if he’d seen a woman and a baby inside the store, going so far as to describe their vehicle and appearance, to which he replied that he hadn’t.
But that all changed in a matter of minutes.
“Within two minutes he called back and said ‘They’re here’. I said you have to stall them,” Schack said.
The owner of the store, Michael Conforti, initially thought the call was a rouse or a prank. His mindset immediately shifted once he hung up the phone and saw the woman and the baby described moments earlier standing right there in his shop.
When looking back at the moment, Conforti said, “That’s when the red flags started popping up.”
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Employees from the store noticed the woman’s odd mood, which he said could be read on her face at the time. When she was approached for help, she stated that she wanted to buy a gun.
By that point, Conforti realized even if it was a prank, he’d rather err on the side of caution. He called 911 as the NYPD had instructed him and tried to stall the woman as she filled out the paperwork to purchase a “small handgun.”
Soon enough, the Pocono Mountain Regional Police arrived and brought the mom and the baby to a local hospital for evaluation. If it wasn’t for Schack’s quick thinking, and the help of the out-of-state gun shop owner, things might not have turned out so well.
Schack commented on the responsive of local police and the appreciation of the family of the young woman.
“I was hoping the police were gonna get there quickly and everyone was gonna be safe. The second I heard [she was there] it was amazing. The grandma thanked me, the sister thanked me, they said you two went over and beyond. Most cops wouldn’t have done this. This was amazing what you did.”