Surrey RCMP have arrested the father of a three-year-old boy, who was abandoned at a bus stop in Surrey, B.C., around 11:30 a.m. PT Saturday morning.

'He was in swim trunks, a T-shirt, ...his feet were soaked. He was freezing' - Liquor store employee Lucy Ingram

Insp. Bruce Stuart said people in the area noticed a small child in a T-shirt and shorts running around the bus stop in the wind and rain.

The child came up to an adult who was at the stop at 152 Street and 64 Avenue.

"The adult slapped the child, pushed him into the bus stop, then got on the bus and left," Stuart said.

Stuart said witnesses took the boy to the liquor store across the street and called police. When police arrived, he said, the youngster had a hard time describing what had happened to him because of his age.

Inspector Bruce Stuart child abandoned

Surrey RCMP Insp. Bruce Stuart said police were able to find the boy's mother through the father's cellphone information. (CBC)

A number of witnesses began tweeting the boy's picture on social media in an attempt to find his mother.

Stuart said a nearby convenience store looking at its surveillance tape for clues noticed the same man stealing apple juice box containers from the store. There were a number of the same containers at the bus stop.

The man also validated the SIM card that was on his cellphone, Stuart said, and as a result, police obtained his cellphone information and were eventually able to reunite the child with his mother.

A short time later, police received a tip the man was on a bus and were able to stop it and arrest him.

Stuart said the father has since been released from custody and is facing charges of assault, theft and child abandonment. He said the Ministry of Children and Family Development is involved in the case.

Strangers rush to feed and clothe boy

Lucy Ingram, who works at the liquor store across the street from the bus stop said one of her regular customers told her a child had just been abandoned.

Lucy Ingram child abandonment

Lucy Ingram, an employee of the liquor store where the boy was taken, said staff looked after him for about three hours while police looked for his mother. (CBC)

"I looked across the street and saw a small boy, very upset, crying," she said.

"Another one of our regulars had to go to him because it almost looked like he was going to go out on the street and he managed to get him to the median, and I ran to the median and the little boy put his arms up."

Ingram said another woman who shops there put a picture of the boy on her community Facebook page.

"And it was unbelievable the amount of people that came in...brought toys, for him, brought food for him," she said.

"Another customer had gone home and grabbed another pair of sweatpants and a hoodie for him because he was in swim trunks, a T-shirt, a summer jacket, a toque and one mitten and his feet were soaked. He was freezing."

The father is due to appear in Surrey Provincial Court.

Surrey RCMP are asking anyone who may have witnessed any part of the incident to give them a call at 604-599-0502 or call CrimeStoppers.