Suspected St. Pete ‘porch pirate’ holds infant as shield when police arrive

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – It started with packages being stolen from porches around St. Petersburg. It ended with a violent car crash and a baby used as a shield against the cops.

The car crash sent two suspects and the baby to the emergency room. EMS crews loaded Cassandra Cole into an ambulance. Police accuse Cole and her boyfriend, Derick Corbett, of stealing packages with the couple’s 6-month-old son in the back seat.

Police say Corbett ran a red light, slamming into Julie Samartos. “Scary. I didn’t even know it was even coming. I didn’t even see him coming. One minute I’m driving and the next minute I’m just turning the other direction and there’s smoke everywhere,” Samartos told News Channel 8.

“I just think it’s sad that people are in such a position that they’re stealing and that this is what happens. And I just hope that the child that was in the car turns out to be okay,” she added.

When an officer arrived to investigate a report from someone who spotted a man taking packages, Corbett hoped in the car and hit the gas.

A few blocks away, he hit Samartos’ Volvo and went airborne. Both parents bolted from the car, taking their injured son. They hid in some bushes. Police couldn’t believe what happened next. Police say Corbett held his son up as a shield, in case police fired at him.

Some of the stolen Christmas presents belong to Nassima Arias. “Thanks to God the police officer was there. They do a great job. They called me. They came back. They make a report. They bring me back my packages, so everything was fine,” Arias said.

The baby boy has a cut on his forehead and will be fine.

Corbett has six previous arrests on his Pinellas County record. He and Cole will face a number of charges, including burglary and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries. In addition, the couple will face child endangerment charges.

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