updated 6/17/2004 4:49:12 PM ET 2004-06-17T20:49:12

A 2-year-old boy who was kidnapped during a carjacking and held for $100,000 ransom was found safe Thursday in a public area of his hometown, authorities said.

Police said they were tipped to Tellious Brown’s whereabouts by an anonymous caller soon after the boy’s mother made a plea for his return at a news conference. Any suspects had fled before police arrived, police Maj. Russell Traino said.

Police said two men, described as black and in their 20s, pointed a gun at 24-year-old Lakendra Trice and her son as they got out of a Buick, then drove off with the boy still in the car.

Police found the car about half an hour later, but it was empty.

The child’s return followed a Wednesday night ransom demand made to his family, a law enforcement source close to the investigation said on condition of anonymity. The kidnappers wanted $100,000, the source said. It was not immediately known if the ransom was paid.

Thursday afternoon, a smiling Trice carried her son into the police station. Before being taken behind closed doors, an officer gave the child a white teddy bear.

“Thanks, guys,” Trice said quickly to friends and family.

At the news conference, Trice said, “I just hope and pray that he’s OK. That’s my only child. Please. I just want him back.”

Trice’s mother, Rhonda Grant, said her daughter told her she did not recognize the kidnappers.

“She was just trying to get the child out of the car,” Grant said.

Columbus is 95 miles south of Atlanta near the Alabama border

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