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1-year-old abducted by father found safe; mother in critical condition

Posted May 20
Updated May 21

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— A 1-year-old girl who was taken by her father on Friday night after a shooting has been found safe, Youngsville officials said.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety on Saturday canceled an Amber Alert for Desaree Hopkins. Youngsville police said the suspect, Devon Anthony Whaley, is in custody.

Youngsville police said Whaley, 24, of 250 Pine Ridge in Louisburg, shot Desaree's mother around 7:30 p.m. Friday in the area of Hidden Lane in Youngsville and abducted the child. Whaley then fled the scene in a white 2000 Pontiac.

Desaree's mother was shot in her stomach and leg, officials said.

Police said an anonymous tip led them to led them to Desaree, who was with another relative in a public place. The same tip also gave police information on Whaley's whereabouts. Officers found Whaley driving on U.S. Highway 1 in Wake Forest with a few other people in the car.

Officials said the child is now staying with her grandmother.

Police said Whaley's relationship with Desaree's mother has been a volatile relationship.

"It's very violent, very violent history," Youngsville Police Chief Daren Kirts said. "[It] goes way back."

Desaree's mother, whose name has not been released, attempted to escape from the scene of the shooting in a vehicle but crashed less than a mile away. Youngsville Police Chief Daren Kirts said the shooting was the result of a domestic dispute between Devon Whaley and Desaree's mother.

Authorities said Desaree's mother has shown improvements but is in critical condition at WakeMed Hospital.

Whaley was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and violating a court order. He was being held at the Franklin County jail under a $850,000 bond. Police said more charges are pending.

[Editor's note: A previous version of this story, citing information from the Youngsville Police Department, reported the child's name was Jazari Whaley. Updated information from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety corrected the child's name to Desaree Hopkins.]


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