Suffolk police charged a Bay Shore woman with child endangerment Monday after they said she left her infant niece inside a car that was then stolen.
Gail Solomon, 43, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, after police said she left her 4-month-old niece, Zuriel James, in the running car about 8 a.m. while she went to get a sandwich at a Subway shop at 1735 Union Blvd. in Bay Shore.
Police said Zuriel was unharmed and no arrests have been made in connection with the car theft.
According to online court records, Solomon was arraigned Monday, but no information was available about any bail issued or if she had a desk appearance ticket.
Suffolk Police Inspector Robert Brown, commanding officer of the Third Precinct, said Zuriel was strapped in a baby seat in the back of the car when a male suspect took the vehicle.
Brown said the suspect picked up two other males shortly afterward and they took off in the vehicle, described as a blue Honda Civic.
But the car wasn't gone long, Brown said. He said about 15 minutes later, the car was found running and unlocked on Cherry Street between Third and Fourth avenues in Bay Shore with Zuriel inside.
"We're still seeking those individuals," Brown said at a news conference Monday, adding that the suspects eluded police helicopters and K-9 officers. "We would like the public's assistance."
Patrol officer Michael Ciardullo said he and his partner had just heard the call on their radio when they spotted the running parked blue Honda Civic with the infant in the backseat.
"As a parent you are excited to see that the baby was unharmed," Ciardullo said.
Solomon told Newsday that shortly after the theft, a Subway employee alerted her someone was about to steal her car.
"I saw someone hop in the car," she said.
Solomon said she ran out the door of the shop and after the car. As it pulled away, she darted into a 7-Eleven and called 911.
"I just took off running," she said."
Before her arrest, Solomon praised the efforts of police and said during the brief ordeal her mind was focused on her niece's safety.
"All I was thinking about was her," she said. "I mean a car is a car. I'm just glad she's OK."
Solomon said the experience was something that happens on the television news but not to you.
"You see it on TV, but . . . "
Plainclothes detectives were seen canvassing the area near the Subway shop. They went into a 24-hour laundry looking for surveillance videos. Women at the laundry did not want to comment on the incident.
"At least they found the car and there's a happy ending to this story," said Fading Khaber, manager at the 99 Cent Store next door to the Subway.
Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477. All calls will be kept confidential.
With James Carbone
and Gary Dymski