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Backyard birder whose quick thinking ended AMBER Alert receives award

Barbara Gusse's story that day went viral.

The backyard bird watcher who helped save a child that was the subject of an AMBER Alert was given an award for her quick thinking that day.

Barbara Gusse, from Brooklyn Center, was at home, feeding the birds in her yard on Feb. 6 when an AMBER Alert came though on her phone: A 1-year-old boy in the back of a stolen vehicle, authorities searching frantically to locate him on the cold, wintry day.

It wasn't long before Gusse noticed a vehicle matching the description of the one in the AMBER Alert - a white Jeep - in the parking lot of a church across the street, idling. She grabbed her binoculars, normally reserved for admiring the birds in her yard, and zoomed in on the license plate. A match.

She quickly called police, and the 1-year-old was discovered safe in the vehicle, with the suspect having fled.

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension gave Gusse an award for her quick thinking that day, noting her awareness and action "could well have saved the child’s life."

Gusse's story quickly went viral, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey proclaimed Feb. 9, 2021, as Barbara Gusse Day in the city.

There have been a handful of AMBER Alerts and public appeals for missing children in the Twin Cities this year. All of the children have ultimately been found safe.

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