A woman was talking to a friend at an East Bay Street gas station Monday night, police said, when a man took off in her car with her 3-year-old daughter in the back seat.
Officers turned the child over safely to her mother late Monday after a chance encounter with the suspect at another convenience store about five blocks away.
Police charged Edwin Lamont Taylor, 31, of North Charleston with kidnapping and grand larceny. He was being held at the Charleston County Detention Center on $70,000 bail Tuesday.
The 22-year-old mother told police she left the car running with the child in the back seat as she spoke with a friend at the Texaco at 522 E. Bay St., according to a police report.
She said a man entered the vehicle and drove off, nearly crashing several times.
Police said she did not call 911.
The woman said she checked several locations where the man might have gone when a friend called and told her officers were talking to a man at the Li'l Cricket at 56 State St.
Officers had been patrolling the State Street area when they saw a man exit a green Buick at a gas station but left the music blaring about 10:40 p.m. He had a swollen lip and face and blood on his shirt, according to the report.
"My girlfriend beat me up," the man told police. He told them the car belonged to her.
According to the police report, as officers spoke with the man, the child's mother and her friend arrived at the gas station. The mother attacked the suspect, screaming, "Where's my kid?"
Officers put the man in a police car for his own protection as they learned about the child from the mother. Officers looked inside the car and saw the girl pinned between the child seat and the front seat of the car, the report said.
The child was evaluated at the scene and released.
Her mother said Tuesday that her daughter was doing well but declined to discuss the incident otherwise.
The suspect told police he was aware the child was in the car, the report said.
Taylor has a lengthy criminal history, according to a State Law Enforcement Division criminal background check. He has multiple convictions for possession of marijuana and cocaine, trespassing and violation of the open container law.