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PARK CITY — An 11-year-old boy was traumatized, but unharmed after police say he was forcibly kidnapped early Friday and driven around Summit County before officers freed him and arrested the two men accused of abducting him.
"Merry Christmas, right?" Summit County Sheriff's Capt. Justin Martinez said during a press conference Friday. "I mean, what a gift to be able to give this child back to his family."
The boy was sent out to his mother's sport-utility vehicle about 12:30 a.m. to retrieve a cellphone, Martinez said. As the boy walked back to his family's apartment, "these two individuals come out of the shadows and say, 'Give us all your money,'" the captain said.
The boy didn't have money, so investigators say Ruben Anthony Morales and Gustavo Vasquez-Nava took the cellphone and car keys from the child, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
"They pulled the hoodie over his head and threatened him saying, 'If you scream or do anything stupid, we'll shoot you,'" Martinez said.
Morales, 28, and Vasquez-Nava, 19, then loaded the boy in the back seat of his mother's SUV and drove away, according to investigators. A short time later, the boy's mother went to look for her son. When she couldn't find the boy or her vehicle, she called 911.
This little boy wanted to go, he wanted to go back to mom and dad, they said, 'No. You're coming with us.' No motive to seek ransom, no motive other than they just thought they would take him along and disrupt his life.
–Capt. Justin Martinez, Summit County
Information about the missing boy and the stolen SUV was broadcast to all on-duty sheriff's deputies, Martinez said. A Park City police officer who was monitoring the county's radio traffic heard the call and spotted an SUV that matched the description of the stolen vehicle parked behind a convenience store at 2010 Park Ave., the captain said.
When the officer approached the vehicle, Morales and Vasquez-Nava ran away. Morales suffered a possible broken ankle when he jumped off a small retaining wall while running, but continued to resist arrest, Martinez said. A Taser was used to subdue him, the captain said.
Vasquez-Nava stopped running and surrendered to police after an officer pointed a Taser at him as well, Martinez said. Police found the boy frightened, but unhurt in the back seat of the SUV.
"He gave a very compelling account as to what happened," Martinez said.
The boy told investigators that the men who abducted him had driven to a pair of Summit County convenience stores before stopping at the third store where they were spotted by the Park City officer. Authorities say one of the men attempted to buy beer at the first two stores, but the clerks at those stores refused to sell it to them.
"The time line from the convenience stores matched right up (with the boy's account)," said Martinez, who added that both men appeared to be intoxicated when they were arrested.
Investigators have been unable to identify a motive for the alleged abduction.
"There was no real motive, other than I think these individuals were just — quite frankly — jerks," Martinez said. "This little boy wanted to go, he wanted to go back to mom and dad, they said, 'No. You're coming with us.' No motive to seek ransom, no motive other than they just thought they would take him along and disrupt his life."
Morales and Vasquez-Nava were booked into the Summit County Jail for investigation of child kidnapping, aggravated robbery, theft and failure to stop at the command of police. Their bail was set at $200,000 each, however both men are also being held on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Morales also has a warrant for alleged probation violations in Arizona, according to Martinez.
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