Hit-and-run suspect arrested

By Mehgaan Jones and Curt Yeomans


Morrow police have arrested the suspect in the hit-and-run crash that severely injured a child on Sunday, and were questioning him about the accident Tuesday night, according to a police spokesman.

Morrow Police Capt. James Callaway said detectives took the suspect, Alvelaro Franquez, 34, into custody in the lobby of the Clayton County Jail at approximately 9 p.m., Tuesday.

Callaway said Franquez was served with two warrants for his arrest, on charges of hit-and-run with serious injuries, and failure to report an accident, when the detectives took him into custody.

"He took a taxi to the Clayton County Jail, and was going to turn himself in to the Sheriff's Office," Callaway said. "I don't know if he got cold feet, or what, but he was taken into custody by our detectives while he was walking out of the lobby area [of the jail].

"We got information that he was in the lobby of the jail, and we sent detectives down there to bring him back here, and to question him."

Family members alerted Morrow police to the fact that Franquez was on his way to the jail to turn himself in, Callaway said.

As of 9:40 p.m., Tuesday, Callaway said it was not clear whether Franquez had stayed in Clayton County the entire time police were searching for him. He did say, however, police had been putting pressure on Franquez's relatives, and associates, to get him to turn himself in.

Callaway also said that the child who was injured in the crash, Damian Dennis, 7, remained in stable condition at Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta, but had been taken off life support, and was breathing on his own. Dennis had also been taken out of intensive care, and placed in a traditional hospital room, Callaway added.

The child was a passenger in the vehicle that Alvelaro Franquez allegedly rear-ended, police said. The crash occurred at the intersection of Jonesboro Road and Southlake Plaza Drive, police said.

Franquez's arrest came a day after police found the car he was allegedly driving when the crash occurred. The Lexus SUV allegedly involved in the crash was located in Forest Park, Monday, according to a written statement issued by the Morrow Police Department. The vehicle was found at a residence located at 6435 Boca Grande Parkway, police said in the statement.

Franquez, lived at the address, from time to time, but had no permanent residence, according to Callaway. "The residence is located right outside of the city limits of Morrow behind Southlake Mall," Callaway said. He said a second vehicle, a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado, that Franquez was traveling in, after allegedly hiding the Lexus, was also recovered in Forest Park, on Tuesday evening.

During the execution of a search warrant on Monday, police made two arrests at the Boca Grande residence, according to the police statement.

Angel Alvardo Mendieta was charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer, tampering with evidence, hindering apprehension, false statements to law enforcement and two counts of forgery in the second degree, according to the police statement.

The statement also said that Christina Vazquez-Alvarado was arrested on charges of driving while unlicensed, and five counts of forgery in the second degree.

Police said that during the search of the home, several items were found, including counterfeit resident alien cards, passports, social security cards and ID cards.

"We have been receiving many calls from family members regarding the incident and Franquez's possible whereabouts," Callaway said Tuesday, prior to Franquez's arrest.

A brother of Franquez's, Domiago Franquez, had been in phone contact with Alvelaro Franquez while police were searching for him, authorities said.

"Alvelaro Franquez advised Domiago that he did something bad, and he knows people are looking for him," police said in the written statement.