ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A month after he found an abducted three-year-old girl in an Albuquerque parking lot in the wee hours of a cold morning, Albuquerque Police Officer Chris Poccia was honored by the city for his actions.
Poccia stayed after his shift on January 2nd after news came out that Coraline Leon-Alcocer was missing. She was in the back seat when her mom went to grab water outside of a Smith's. A man hopped into the car and stole it. That car was found at a Saver's thrift store, but Coraline and the suspect were nowhere to be found.
"We just wanted to find the little girl," Poccia said. "We wanted to find her and we wanted to make sure she got home."
It turned out Poccia was the one who found her after an amber alert went out. She was abandoned, left in a parking lot.
"I was kind of nervous at first because it was so cold and I didn't know what to expect and when she looked up at me I was just very relieved," Poccia said.
Poccia's on-body camera showed him scooping up the scared little girl and putting her in his squad car to warm up.
"It just gives you goosebumps when you see it," said Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.
"I think all of us were touched by the compassion you showed her when you approached her to let her know that she would be safe," said APD Chief Gorden Eden.
Poccia, accompanied by his family, was recognized as a Friday Hero by the city. The honor also brought attention to the fact that the abductor has not been caught yet.
"We're begging the community to come up and step up and let us know who it was," said Eden. "We just really need to find out who this individual is. Everybody knows that this probably wasn't his first time and it's certainly not going to be his last time."
There is a $5,000 reward for information leading to that man's arrest. So far all that's come out is a grainy surveillance picture.
"Being a father, having children myself I literally was floored at what that offender did and I don't know what he was thinking," Poccia said. "I'm unable to forgive him for that."
Poccia's encounter with Coraline in the parking lot wasn't his only that fateful morning. He also visited her in the hospital, returning a small cross she'd dropped.