A call came in to police Monday from a woman in a Huntington, West Virginia mall saying a man had tried to kidnap her 5-year-old daughter in an Old Navy store. She pulled a gun on the alleged abductor and he ran away from the armed woman. Police responded, saw the man in the mall food court and arrested him.
The woman, Santana Wallace Adams, is white. The man, Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, is from Alexandria, Egypt.
Headlines read ‘Mom scares off kidnapper with gun’ and the like.
But what happened next had many outraged and calling her motives racist. Police called it a “cultural misunderstanding” because after a copious investigation, with Zayan locked up and held on a high bond, she recanted her story.
Barboursville Police Detective Greg Lucas told local media he doesn’t know why she concocted the fake abduction story.
“I can’t say that she had any kind of agenda or what her agenda was, but it still was very, very bad to hurt this man and upset our entire community like it did,” he told the Huntington (WV) Herald Dispatch.
Zayan, 56, an engineer visiting the U.S. on a work visa, was booked on felony charges of attempted kidnapping and held on a $200,000 bond with his face splashed all over local media. But police initially said Zayan had perhaps just patted the child’s head and smiled, and had not yanked her hair and try to abduct the girl, as Adams claimed.
Now however, police admit that she actually had no contact with him whatsoever after looking at security camera footage.
Though police in Barboursville have as of yet not officially name her, Adams was repeatedly identified by commenters on the police department Facebook page and Heavy was able to independently verify her identity. Attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.
And while it initially appeared she would not be charged, prosecutors are reported to be “discussing and investigating” charges against her.
Adams, who also goes by Santana Renee Adams, shuttered her Facebook when images of her began circulating. Her Twitter remains, albeit a near-eight-year-old account. In many social media photos, Adams proudly displays her holstered handgun.
Late Thursday, Adams, 24, released a statement to local media: “I’m thankful I was prepared to protect my daughter regarding a situation that could have been worse.”
Immediate reaction to her statement was incredulity.
“Ugh. She deserves no type of platform to keep telling lies. She’s thankful for being prepared for what? She said she pulled a gun yet it was never seen on any cameras that her and her kid was anywhere near the gentleman that she falsely accused. She needs to be better prepared to lie next time. She owes this man a public apology.”
Friday, in a breaking development, police said they planned to charge Adams with falsely reporting an emergency incident.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Adams Claimed Zayan Grabbed Her Daughter by the Hair & Tried to Abduct Her Only to Release the Child When Adams Pointed a Gun at Him. The Daughter Backed up Her Mom’s Story, Police Said
Shortly after 6 p.m. on Monday April 1, a 911 call was made to Cabell County from Adams who told “dispatchers that while she was in a department store, a male suspect of Middle Eastern dissent (sic) attempted to grab her 5-year-old daughter by the hair and abduct her from the store.”
She told police that she “pulled out a firearm and the male suspect fled the scene.”
She said she reported it to mall security and they and Barboursville police “observed the male suspect, as described by the female witness, walking near the Food Court and detained him.”
Police said they got a statement from Adams and the girl and they arrested Zayan based on those statements. Then Adams went to the police department and provided a more detailed description of what happened “verifying her previous verbal statement.”
In the police department’s original post on the alleged attempted kidnapping and arrest of Zayan, hundreds of people applauded Adams for “packing” and protecting her child.
“Glad she was carrying to be able to protect her baby. I stand for the right to carry guns. I applaud this mother! Im sure she is grateful to have her child safe at home with her tonight because of her actions.”
But by the next morning, her story began to unravel.
2. Cops Found ‘Inconsistencies’ in Her Story. Police Initially Gave a Version of What Happened But Now Say She Never Even Had Contact With Zayan. The Entire Story Was Made Up
Police said that by the following morning, as detectives continued the investigation by returning to the mall store where the alleged incident happened and examining “video evidence along with other investigative procedures, revealed some inconsistency with the female witness’s original statement. No witnesses to the alleged crime could be found.”
Cops called Adams and told her to come back to police headquarters.
“During the interview with the female witness, detectives discovered more inconsistencies to the original statement. Female witness (mother of the child) eventually told detectives that she might have misjudged the suspect’s actions, overreacted to the uninvited touching of her daughter, and misinterpreted the intentions of the male suspect.”
The “more she thought about it, the more she realized it might have been a cultural misunderstanding and that the suspect might have just been patting her daughter on the head and smiling.”
That subsequent account and explanation has many people angry.
“The GIRL who has now ruined a mans life by lying. First it was he dragged her daughter off by her hair till she Scared him away, then it turned into a “cultural misunderstanding” because he MAY have patted her daughter on the head. So if she didn’t know for sure something was happening, she should be charged for threatening a man with a firearm. Can someone explain to me why the man is still in JAIL?”
On Thursday, police admitted that in fact, based on security video, she never ahd any contact with Zayan. No patting of the head.
Police told local media that Adams “…actually leaves very unaffected before (Zayan) leaves the store …(and is) just walking out with her kids as if nothing ever happened. She is just kind of moseying outside of the store.”
Zayan never saw her. He never had any contact with her.
Adams can be seen on video with a handgun in her pocket and when cops arrived. And based on her statements, Barboursville police arrested Zayan.
3. Despite Her Recanting & the Facts Now Presented by Cops, They Did Not Charge Her Until Friday, 4 Days Later Following a Massive Public Outcry
A person that was in the mall is furious. In an Instagram post, they said that “the false claim that someone tried to steal her child at the Huntington Mall and had me and everyone else in the area scared as hell.”
On the Barboursville Police Department Facebook page, nearly 800 comments have been posted with a seeming majority of folks not happy with Adams’ bogus story and the fact that police had not officially named or charged her, though she has been publicly identified.
“Post her name and her photo. This man had it done to him. Nows the time for her to get the same treatment.”
Among the more popular or ‘liked’ comments are:
“What didn’t make sense to me was the fact they arrested him in the food court after this happened. If he had tried to abduct this child why would he have stuck around the mall! It’s sad how quickly this man was judged by everyone including myself. Her pictured should be plastered all over the internet and news just like his was! And she should pay for his overnight stay in jail by spending the night there also!”
“Cultural difference, lol. She meant prejudice.”
Not everyone commenting on the Barboursville police’s social media was critical of her.
“She was a scared mother who did what she thought was right at that time.. and who knows, he may have had those bad intentions. He was a stranger who uninvitedly touched a child.. I damn sure would have pulled a gun too.. that may be the only reason that little girl is still here… and as for his ‘reputation’… if everything checks out fine he will be released with NO charges and therefore his reputation will be just fine.. maybe he will learn his lesson as to NOT touch a stranger’s child.”
Finally, on Friday afternoon, police said they will be charge her with falsely reporting an emergency incident.
4. Zayan Was Facing Charges Until Late Thursday When the County Prosecutor Dropped its Case
WSAZ reported that while Zayan’s bond was reduced Tuesday and he was released to his family after posting bail, the prosecutor hasn’t made a decision on whether or not to pursue the case against Zayan.
Zayan’s attorney told WSAZ that he’s “thoroughly and diligently investigated this case and there is absolutely no evidence to support any charges or wrongdoing against Mr. Zayan. We have consulted with local law enforcement officials and we are convinced there is no evidence to support these charges at all. However, the ultimate decision rests with the prosecutor, and as we wait for his decision, we will continue to zealously advocate for Mr. Zayan.”
Thursday, Cabell County Prosecutor Sean “Corky” Hammers dropped all charges against Zayan.
“After a complete review of all the evidence collected in this case and after lengthy conversations with detectives and the chief of police of the Barboursville Police Department, I do not believe any provable criminal offense exists against Mr. Zayan. The charge of attempted abduction will be dismissed today and no other charges will be filed against him regarding the above reference incident.”
It is not clear why Hammers said “provable offense” as opposed to saying what police now admitted: Adams completely fabricated the entire story as Zayan never had contact with her or her child.
Still, in a appearance with the detective staged for the media, Zayan was gracious and thanked police.
5. Parents of 3, Adams & Her Husband Stephen Adams’ 2016 Wedding Was a Firearm-Themed Event. Her Sister-in-Law Defended Adams Claiming People Are ‘Ruining a Young Mother’s Life’
This is the Adams’ wedding picture. His parent and hers are all armed. And she has had support from Dana Loesch of the NRA.
“Lawfully armed mother stops a man trying to abduct her daughter at the mall. Another reason why mamas like me support #2A. ”
Adams is reported to be an anti-vaxxer. In 2017, a friend posted a plea for help for her as her child developed a fever following an immunization.
“Hey everyone please please pray for my young friend Santana Wallace Adams and her baby Timothy!! Timothy got an MMR vaccine last Friday and has been running a fever since. Worse he is having multiple seizures brought on by the vaccine. He has stopped breathing and turned blue twice. He was admitted to the hospital today. Her husband is away in the military. This is so hard for this young mother. ? ?”
On her Twitter account, Adams, then Wallace, shared her fervent religious beliefs.
“Judgement house at my church was amazing!! I can’t wait til the day I get to live with Jesus!! It will be perfect.”
She and her now husband began dating in 2011 when she was 16, based on her and his social media.
Stephen Adams is reported to be working as a police or corrections officer.
Adams’ sister-in-law Chelsi Berent has come to her defense and appears to be suggesting that the events at the mall where Adams pulled a gun on Zayan are not what they seem.
She also wrote that Adams is a mother of three and deserves respect.
“She is a mother of three, spending most of her time solely dedicated to raising them. And if any of you are mothers, you know that your children are the most important things to you, and always will be. Regardless of the event, whether it happened or didn’t, all of these posts and shares are helping to ruin a young mothers life. ”