By Jeremy Ross

CHICAGO (CBS) — A  police officer is credited for recognizing a man in a photo hours after it was taken and 20 miles from where the picture was taken.

CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reported Wednesday that law enforcement said the man in custody is well-known as a panhandler in the area.

“I can imagine they were on pins and needles until such time as Liam was found,” said Commander Dave Case of the Bridgeview Police.

Four-year-old Liam Barbarasa was safely reunited with his family and now we are learning the quick actions of police that helped find him and catch the man accused of kidnapping the boy.

That man, 28-year-old Rudy Gutierrez, faces multiple charges after he was accused of hopping in the running mini-van the four-year-old was in.

It started at 5:37 Monday afternoon. The child’s father stopped in a Bridgeview 7-Eleven. When he came out the car, his wallet, credit cards and son inside were gone. A desperate search followed.

“It turned into a search for the offender,” Case said.

Police said the 28-year-old drove off, and officers eventually managed to get a tip: A license plate reading cameras matched the plate of the stolen vehicle at an area near Pulaski and 26th. Then investigators believe Gutierrez used a stolen credit card at a gas station on the northwest side.

A Joliet officer, who’s part of an FBI task force viewed surveillance video of the 28-year-old there. Later, when the officer was returning to the southwest suburbs, he happened to spot the accused kidnapper near Archer and Harlem in Summit recognizing his distinct clothing and arrested him.

“With his being observant like that, it’s what good police work’s all about were fortunate he was in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge and the right attitude,” Case said.

Back on the northwest side, about four hours after the crime, at 9:28, police were called to an Irving Park intersection for a completely unrelated parking issue. Cops arrived and recognized the stolen mini van.

“Their recognition of this car was huge when they were able to find Liam he was in the front seat,” Chase said.

 

Law enforcement said Gutierrez was wanted on a parole violation warrant for retail theft. His background includes a history of those kinds of allegations.

The family is extremely appreciative of the media’s role in getting the word out about the situation but is requesting privacy at this time.

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