Police: Man threw child in creek during pursuit

Police and fire and rescue personnel surround Kyle Sunday after he was apprehended Monday night in the Madison Heights subdivision in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Town police have accused a Prince William County man of throwing his small child in a creek as he fled to avoid arrest.

Kyle Steven Sunday, 28, of 2906 Martin Terrace, Haymarket, remains incarcerated on charges of abuse and neglect of a child, attempted malicious wounding of a child under 18, reckless driving, felony and misdemeanor eluding law enforcement, driving on a suspended license, failing to properly secure a child in a vehicle and a safety belt violation.

Officers charged Kristi Ann Leitma, 27, also of Haymarket, with child neglect, obstruction of justice by resisting arrest and providing a false report to police.

Sunday and Leitma appeared in Shenandoah County General District Court on Tuesday. Winchester attorney David Hensley represents Sunday. Charles Ramsey represents Leitma. Judge Amy Tisinger ordered Sunday to remain held without bail, and he remains incarcerated at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. Tisinger scheduled Sunday’s next court appearance for Monday.

Strasburg police Chief Wayne Sager provided information Tuesday about the circumstances leading to the arrests of Sunday and Leitma. Strasburg police Officer Mala Bansal saw a male driver, identified later as Sunday, holding a small child on his lap while driving a vehicle in the area of North Massanutten and Thompson streets at approximately 5 p.m. Monday, according to Sager. The child later was identified as Sunday’s 2-year-old son.

Shenandoah County Sheriffs Office investigator Paul Taylor, right, holds Kyle Sunday after he was apprehended Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sager credited residents listening to police scanners and calling into dispatch with providing information that aided officers in the pursuit that police say ensued after Bansal made contact with Sunday while he was stopped at an intersection.

“We had numerous calls from the community; citizens, giving us updated locations on Mr. Sunday as he was fleeing from us and which helped us get in a good direction of travel in time to set up a perimeter around that location,” Sager said.

A criminal complaint filed in Shenandoah County General District Court by Bansal states that she initially spoke with Sunday at the intersection to ask why he had the 2-year-old child sitting in his lap.

Sunday told the officer he was driving to the 7-Eleven store. Bansal told Sunday he needed to pull over. Sunday turned left onto North Massanutten Street. As Bansal tried to turn around, the officer heard tires squeal and saw Sunday accelerate. Bansal activated the patrol car’s emergency lights and siren.

“Sunday was traveling at an unsafe speed and got out of Bansal’s eyesight,” the complaint states.

Kyle Sunday sits in the back seat of this police cruiser outside a home on East Fairchild Drive after his arrest on Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily

A passerby told Bansal where Sunday had gone. She found Sunday out of the vehicle at a residence on North Massanutten Street. Bansal ordered Sunday to stop. Sunday fled on foot with the child, and he came in contact with another officer near the area of Mineral and North Street in the creek.

“At that point Sunday was observed throwing (the child) approximately 15 feet down the embankment into the river/creek,” the complaint states. “The child suffered several scratches/lacerations all over his body; swollen left eye. Sunday continued fleeing on foot.”

Strasburg Officer Terry Orndorff saw Sunday throw the child over the embankment into the creek. Orndorff stopped pursuing Sunday on foot to rescue the boy, according to Sager. Fire and rescue personnel arrived and treated the boy at the scene.

Officers received a report from Leitma, the owner of the vehicle Sunday was driving, that the car had been stolen with her son still inside, Sager said. Officers reunited Leitma with her son, and then the Shenandoah County Department of Social Services responded to the scene and transferred custody of the child to a family member because officers had charged Leitma, Sager said.

The Shenandoah County Department of Emergency Communications confirmed Sunday had outstanding arrest warrants and a suspended driver’s license. Strasburg police requested a Reverse 911 to notify residents within the area of the situation and to contact dispatch with information.

A police officer stands inside the front doorway of an East Fairchild Drive home after a fugitive who eluded police earlier in the day was captured. Rich Cooley/Daily

During the investigation, the agency learned that Sunday and Leitma are the child’s parents and Sunday and Leitma have been in a relationship.

Officers continued to gather information from the community on Sunday’s location as he fled into the Madison Heights subdivision. Members of the Shenandoah County and Warren County Sheriffs’ Offices joined the search, with the latter using a K9 unit to track Sunday.

Officers found a home on East Fairchild Drive to where they suspected Sunday had fled. Sager said a friend of Sunday’s lives in the residence and allowed the suspect inside but likely did not know the circumstances. Lt. Jason Ford made contact with the resident and confirmed Sunday was inside. Officers made multiple attempts to contact Sunday. The suspect did not have a phone, and the residence did not have a landline telephone, Sager said. Officers entered the home and found Sunday hiding in the insulation in the attic.

A struggle ensued as officers tried to apprehend Sunday, Sager said.

“This gentleman had just tossed his child over an embankment and fled from us,” Sager said. “You know he did not want to go to jail, and there was a struggle, and the ceiling did give way.”

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office deputy Brandon Dodson stands outside a home on East Fairchild Drive in Strasburg on Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily

An officer fell through the attic floor and suffered minor injuries, Sager said, adding that fire and rescue workers treated the officer at the scene. Sunday also received treatment at the scene for breathing problems likely caused by his exposure to the attic insulation.

The Virginia State Police are investigating a discharge of the officer’s firearm. No injuries resulted from the firearm discharging, Sager said.

Officers apprehended Sunday at approximately 9:30 p.m. Monday, Sager said. Leitma and Sunday were booked at the RSW Regional Jail later that night.

A checklist used by the magistrate to determine bail states that Sunday has lived most of his life in Haymarket though records show some connection to Linden. The checklist indicates Sunday faces charges in Prince William County and Warren County and is wanted in Maryland. The magistrate notes that Sunday did not appear to tell the truth about where he lives. A magistrate’s checklist with Leitma’s case indicates she also was not truthful with law enforcement officers.

Police stand outside a home on East Fairchild Drive in the Madison Heights subdivision Monday night in Strasburg after apprehending a fugitive. Rich Cooley/Daily