Investigation Underway About Recent Amber Alert In East Pittsburgh

State police are reviewing why it took five hours to send out an Amber Alert for Diore Thomas yesterday, and victims advocates say that’s too long. KDKA's Andy Sheehan reports.

Video Transcript

- Tonight, a review is underway in Harrisburg following the abduction of four-month-old, Dior Thomas. The little girl is back with her mother tonight, but there are questions about why it took several hours for that AMBER Alert to be issued, and our KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan is asking those questions.

ANDY SHEEHAN: Kim, five hours, that's how long it took for an AMBER Alert to be issued in this case. State police have launched their own internal investigation but crime victim advocates say that is far too long. A violent encounter, police say the estranged father Gionte Thomas abducted the four-month-old baby Dior after putting a gun to the head of the mother, Tammy Williams, and then fleeing in her car. It's the kind of incident for which AMBER Alerts are designed. Only this one took hours to be issued, and advocates for victims of violent crime say this isn't the first time.

LAURIE MACDONALD: Every second counts and for a parent who's child-- that short time frame, whether it's a half an hour, or six hours, is a lifetime to them. And they need to have a quicker response.

ANDY SHEEHAN: According to police, Thomas abducted the child around 12:30, but the AMBER Alert wasn't issued until 5:45, more than five hours later. Today, State Police in Harrisburg were conducting an internal review to determine the reasons for that delay. In a statement, State Police say they responded to a domestic disturbance call, conducted an investigation, and issued the alert, but have not yet determined why it took so long. They've launched an internal investigation to find out why.

LAURIE MACDONALD: Then you think, once they're issuing an AMBER Alert for your child that that's going to happen quickly and it doesn't.

ANDY SHEEHAN: According to the state police website for an AMBER Alert to be issued, the child must be under 18 and believed to be in imminent danger. Other factors include the availability of descriptive information, time elapsed since the child was seen, and the reliability of witnesses. But McDonald is calling for the process to be reviewed.

LAURIE MACDONALD: It's like with so many things in law enforcement. The laws that we have, their intentions are good, and the concept is excellent. But it doesn't work in reality, not exactly.

ANDY SHEEHAN: So you'd like to see it streamlined?

- I think it should be streamlined. I'm not really sure why it is this way. You know? I don't know why it takes so long.

ANDY SHEEHAN: Now happily, little Dior was located and rescued by police and her father is under arrest. But police have launched this investigation into this Amber alert delay, and maybe some change will come. Reporting live in East Pittsburgh, Andy Sheehan, KDKA news.