PITTSBURGH - Two men were arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the possible kidnapping of a woman who was bound inside a home in Pittsburgh, authorities said.
The kidnapping was reported about 8:30 p.m. Monday by the woman’s son, and officers got in contact with people who allegedly took the 40-year-old victim from a house on Shaw Avenue in Monroeville, police said.
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“They were extorting money, or they wanted money in return for her safety,” Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole said.
The suspects were demanding thousands of dollars, marijuana and guns, according to a criminal complaint.
While on the way to a home with a suspected connection to the incident, police began chasing a vehicle early Tuesday morning on Frankstown Avenue into Pittsburgh’s Homewood and Larimer neighborhoods.
The vehicle that was being pursued crashed into a salt truck about 1 a.m. at the intersection of Lowell and Meadow streets in Larimer, police said. The truck sustained extensive damage, but the driver was not injured.
“The pursuit lasted about five minutes. During the pursuit we were able to take two individuals into custody,” Cole said.
The two men arrested were identified as Derrick Duke and Justice McCallum.
Meanwhile, the alleged kidnapping victim was believed to be held at a home on Kelly Street in Homewood, where SWAT officers responded but did not find anything, investigators said.
The alleged kidnapping victim was found after she escaped from the abandoned home where she had been bound, according to authorities.
“She was able to break free and get out of the house as we were targeting the house,” Cole said.
When describing what happened, the victim told police she had just gotten out of her car after parking when she noticed five masked men in the trees nearby. She was then punched in the face and put in her car’s back seat, according to the criminal complaint.
Guns were pointed at her by all five men who told her to be quiet in the car, and one of the men blindfolded her, the victim told police.
The victim said she was taken to the abandoned home and her wrists were tied to a chair and her feet were bound.
At one point, the victim said she could hear a phone conversation in which her children promised the kidnappers they would be given the money in exchange for her safe return, the complaint said.
After a while of not hearing two of the men who had stayed at the house with her, she “hopped the chair out of the house and went to several houses pleading for help,” the complaint said.
Police said a homeowner called 911 about 2:30 a.m. and said a woman tied to a chair was on his porch.
Duke and McCallum face charges of kidnapping, conspiracy, simple assault, reckless endangerment, theft and unlawful restraint. They are each being jailed on $500,000 bond.
Police are searching for additional people connected to the incident, but they did not say how many.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in the case, and sent WPXI the following statement regarding the search of the home on Kelly Street.
“FBI Pittsburgh works closely with our law enforcement and intelligence partners at every level whenever requested. Our role in this investigation was to assist our law enforcement partners in any way possible. As you know, Monroeville Police is the lead agency in this investigation and details of the investigation would have to be provided by that agency. The safety and welfare of those involved and the integrity of the investigation are always the first priorities for the FBI. I can confirm that FBI Pittsburgh did not provide input, nor was it consulted, in regards to any decisions to employ SWAT or enter a residence as part of this investigation.”
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