The father of the two children who had been reported missing Thursday was arrested early Friday morning near Dolores after a search by multiple law enforcement agencies.
Brandon Begay, 35, was arrested in a field north of the Skyline Food and Gas Mart on Colorado Highway 184 west of town, said Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
Begay was found carrying the two children, who were safe and unharmed. They were returned to their mother, who was staying at a hotel in Cortez.
“The kids were shaken and cold. There were no injuries,” Nowlin said.
An ambulance was at the scene to evaluate the suspect and children.
Begay was arrested on suspicion of two counts child abuse no injury, and two counts reckless endangerment. The allegations are misdemeanors.
He is in custody at the Montezuma County Detention Center and was in court Friday.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation on Thursday night issued an Amber Alert for the 1-year-old girl and her 3-month-old brother. It said they were traveling with Begay in a white and brown Ford pickup with temporary Arizona tags. The truck had been seen in the Dolores area.
Ten Navajo Nation police officers, and two FBI agents joined the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office in the search. The San Juan County New Mexico Sheriff’s Office also dispatched its helicopter to assist. The search lasted until 2 a.m. Friday.
“There was a sense of urgency. The search and arrest was a combined effort, a real show of teamwork from regional law enforcement,” Nowlin said.
Nowlin said Begay reportedly picked up the children from a home in Aneth, Utah, then allegedly threatened to harm them and himself.
Initial law enforcement reports were that he was suspected of carrying a handgun, but one was not found during the arrest, Nowlin said. Ammunition was found in Begay’s truck.
Sightings were reported by the public after the Amber Alert went out, Nowlin said. Begay was spotted at the Skyline Food and Gas Mart about 9 p.m. Thursday with the hood of his truck up.
A witness said he began walking west down Colorado 184 carrying the two children, Nowlin said. He then walked northeast through open fields that are interspersed with a few homes.
“Residents in the area were informed to shelter in place,” Nowlin said.
Reverse 911 was used to get the word out, and deputies went door to door.
Law enforcement officers tracked Begay’s movements based on pings coming from his mobile phone. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office helicopter relayed coordinates to deputies on the ground. A drone was also deployed as part of the search effort.
A resident informed police Begay was seen nearby carrying the children. Officers converged, and Begay gave up. He was arrested without incident, Nowlin said. Deputies are searching the area.
“People really paid attention to the Amber Alert, and we received multiple reports of sightings,” Nowlin said.
At a hearing in Montezuma County Court on Friday, Judge JenniLynn Lawrence set bond of $5,000 cash surety and issued a protection order the prohibits Begay from contacting the children. An additional order prohibits him from possessing a firearm.
Begay’s next court date is July 20 for appearance of counsel.