Kidnapping isn't like 'Nam, there are rules. For instance, if you're demanding ransom, the hostage should not be someone you're acquainted with, because it's hard to get away with it if the person knows who you are. But it's just such a rookie mistake that may land a Staten Island couple behind bars for the rest of their lives. And all for a ransom demand of One Hundred Thirty Dollars (and zero cents).
Robert Jemmott and his girlfriend, Army Reservist Tamika Atanda, were arrested Tuesday night after their ill-conceived scheme went sideways. Officials say it all began around 7:30 p.m. outside a laundromat, where the couple confronted Jemmott's friend Darryn Berry and his wife, Michelle Rodriguez. Apparently, Berry is a deadbeat who wouldn't repay the $130 he had borrowed from Jemmott. Enraged, Atanda allegedly punched Berry in the face, then grabbed his wife and dragged her into the rear passenger seat of a white 2000 Chevrolet Lumina.
They sped off, but Atanda soon called Berry and, according to court papers obtained by the Staten Island Advance, told him, "If I don’t get the money by 10:30, I’m going to do something to your wife I don’t want to do." Meanwhile, Berry called 911 and provided a description of the perpetrators and their vehicle. Within an hour, cops spotted the Lumina: It wasn't parked outside a secluded safe house, but in front of a deli in Stapleton. Jemmott had gone inside to do a little shopping, while his girlfriend waited in the car with the bound and gagged hostage in the back seat.
Officers allegedly found a loaded .38-caliber handgun in the glove compartment, and—this part may shock you—Atanda had five small plastic bags of crack cocaine in her pants pocket. Besides drug possession, the duo was charged with first-degree kidnapping, felony criminal weapon possession, misdemeanor assault and possession of pistol or revolver ammunition. Reached at home by the Daily News, Atanda's mother said, "It's not in her character, I don't understand this. Tamika is on her own on this one!"