Missing child located, shooting suspect in custody

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shortly after arresting her wanted mother, police located 6-year-old Yarah Thomas after she was reported missing on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

Cumberland Sheriff Darrell Hodges said that Yarah “is fine,” happy and healthy.

Police searched Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and early afternoon for the girl, who was last seen exiting her school bus on Mahan Road in southern Cumberland.

Email newsletter signup

According to Farmville Police Department Capt. Bill Hogan, Laila Johnson, 33, Yarah’s mother, who police considered armed and dangerous, was wanted in connection with an Oct. 16 shooting incident on South Main Street that left one person injured. Hogan said officers arrested Johnson without incident in the Green Bay area of Prince Edward County shortly after noon Wednesday following an anonymous tip to police.

Yarah was believed to have been in her mother’s custody.

Johnson is charged with shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. She’s being held without bond at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, according to police.

“Prince Edward deputies also served an outstanding failure to appear warrant from their jurisdiction,” Farmville police said in the release.

“When she got off the bus, (Yarah) went and got into a little black car with two women and a man in the back,” Hodges said Wednesday morning. “She ran to the car and got in it. It wasn’t like somebody grabbed her.”

Yarah has been staying with her grandparents while her mother, Johnson, was being sought by authorities, Hodges said.

The Oct. 16 shooting incident occurred in front of @Work Personnel Services on South Main Street in Farmville.

Following the shooting, Farmville police said there was no known threat to the public.

“According to witnesses, an altercation occurred between one of four passengers of a Mitsubishi SUV and an unknown female subject,” Farmville police said in the release regarding the shooting. “During the course of the altercation, Johnson allegedly opened fire at the vehicle from behind a nearby residence. One passenger sustained minor injuries as a result of debris caused by the gunfire and was taken to Centra Southside Community Hospital. She has been treated and released.”

Farmville Police Chief A.Q. “Andy” Ellington, who was at the shooting scene, said the victim’s injuries appeared to have come from shattered glass as a result of the shooting.

Police continue to investigate the shooting incident and anyone with additional information is encouraged to call the Farmville Police Department at (434) 392-3332.