AP NEWS

Police arrest woman in false abduction emergency

April 6, 2019

HUNTINGTON — The woman who police said falsely called 911 to allege she had pulled a gun on a man who tried to abduct her daughter inside the Huntington Mall has been arrested.

Santana Renee Adams, 24, of Milton, is facing a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an emergency, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Cabell County Magistrate Court.

Adams told police she was shopping inside a clothing store at the mall Monday when a man of Middle Eastern descent “attempted to grab her 5-year-old daughter by the hair and abduct her from the store.” Adams said she then pulled a handgun from her pocket and pointed it at the man before he ran away, according to the complaint on the alleged incident.

However, police said mall security video shows a different version of events. There were also seven employees inside the store at the time and none of them witnessed the alleged incident, according to the complaint.

Adams’ statement led police to charge the man, Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, 54, of Alexandria, Egypt, with felony attempted abduction by a person. That charge was dismissed Thursday after police and prosecutors reviewed the evidence and found Adams’ follow-up statements to be inconsistent.

On Monday at approximately 6:17 p.m., Adams called 911 dispatchers and told them she was at the Huntington Mall.

“I’m not sure if you would consider it an emergency or something you guys would have to look into,” Adams said, according to the complaint. “But a man just tried to grab my daughter and take her away from me. I pulled my gun and he let go of her and ran the other direction. I’m sitting in the food court now because I got her and ran.”

Police officers arrived at the mall and took a statement from Adams and her young daughter. These statements were used as a basis to place Zayan under arrest, according to the complaint.

In a follow-up written statement, Adams described a scene in which Zayan visibly grabbed her daughter and she “yelled, ‘Let her go!’ and pulled my 9mm Smith and Wesson Shield from my right side leather holster and pointed it at him, ready to shoot.”

Adams said the man let go of her daughter and quickly exited the store, according to the complaint. She told police she grabbed her daughter, a stroller and exited the store, later spotting the man coming toward her. According to the complaint, she called her husband to say a man was following her.

Police said the store’s security cameras did not capture the supposed incident and did not corroborate Adams’ description of the situation.

Police said the video shows Zayan entering the store, followed by Adams and her children two minutes later. Fourteen minutes later, the video shows Adams calmly leaving the store, with Zayan casually exiting about 35 seconds after her, according to the complaint. Zayan was then seen walking in the opposite direction of Adams, never turning around or looking in her direction.

Adams was then seen making the phone call to her husband before she approached the mall security counter, according to the complaint. It was at that time she called 911. Responding police arrested Zayan as he was walking through the mall’s food court.

Adams was asked to come to the Barboursville Police Department the next day to give another detailed statement, where police said they discovered more inconsistencies.

“Mrs. Adams eventually told detectives that she might have misjudged the suspect’s actions, overreacted to the touching of her daughter, and misinterpreted the intentions of the male suspect,” according to the complaint. “Mrs. Adams also stated that the more she thought about it, the more she realized it might have been a misunderstanding and that the suspect might have just been patting her daughter on the head and smiling.”

Zayan told reporters Thursday he never interacted with Adams or her daughter and wouldn’t recognize them if he saw them. He also said she never pointed a gun at him. Police said they believe Zayan. They spoke with employees at the store who did not see Adams and Zayan have any kind of interaction, and no other witnesses could be found, according to the complaint. They are unsure why she would report a false emergency.

Adams was arraigned before Cabell County Magistrate Dan Ferguson and later released from jail in lieu of a $20,000 or 20 percent bail. She requested a public defender to represent her. Adams did not speak to reporters gathered at her arraignment hearing.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.