Abduction victim is found locked in detective's garage

Officer is suspended after colleagues investigating ransom demand discover man bound and gagged
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The Independent US

A New York detective has been suspended after an abducted man was found bound and gagged in his garage. It did not take long for the city's police department to track down the kidnapping victim, Brian Karikari, 25, of Queens, who was seen being bundled into a car by a group of armed men in the early hours of Friday.

First, they traced a mobile phone that was used to place a $75,000 (£47,625) ransom demand with one of Mr Karikari's closest acquaintances. Then, at 3pm on Saturday, armed officers raided the house from where the call was made, and stumbled upon an off-duty member of their own force. Ondre Johnson, who works with the Brooklyn North gang unit and lives at the address, happened to be in possession of not one but two firearms.

Soon afterwards, Mr Karikari was discovered, bound and gagged, in a garage attached to the property. A search of the main house turned up, among other items, a safe containing machines for making fake credit cards.

Mr Johnson was suspended from active duty on full pay. He has yet to be formally arrested or charged.

"A decision was made last night not to lock him up," a police official told The New York Times yesterday. "What you have is an enormous amount of suspicion, but not the hard evidence tying him into it."

Mr Johnson is apparently claiming he knew nothing about Mr Karikari's abduction, and never used the garage where the victim was found. He said he shared the house, which is divided into two apartments, with a cousin, and that the credit card machine was found in the part of the building he had no access to.

The cousin, Hakeen Clark, was among four men arrested. An alleged accomplice, Jason Hutson, was found hiding beneath a bed. James Gayle and Alfredo Haughton have also been charged with taking part in the kidnapping. Court papers suggest Mr Clark was running a credit card forgery ring which did business with Mr Karikari. Witnesses to the alleged kidnapping said the victim tried to escape but Mr Hutson pulled a gun and declared: "Don't try anything funny or I'll shoot you."

Mr Johnson, a 17-year veteran of the NYPD, claims to have had no knowledge of the illegal activity that was apparently taking place in his own home, and insists that he did not see or hear anything suspicious during the period that a kidnap victim was being held in the garage.