'Everybody's worst nightmare': says Prince George, B.C., daycare owner who fought off alleged abductor

A B.C. daycare owner says she kicked and screamed as she fought with a man who allegedly tried to take a child in her care from a playground.

'He was stone faced,' says Chelsi Sabbe of man she encountered in playground

Chelsi Sabbe fought off a man in Prince George, B.C., who she says was trying to abduct the kids in her care. (Wil Fundal)

A B.C. daycare owner says she kicked and screamed as she fought with a man who allegedly tried to abduct a child in her care from a playground.

All Chelsi Sabbe wanted to do late Tuesday morning was to go on a field trip to a Prince George playground that her daycare children had never visted.

But the day quickly turned into a harrowing experience after a man allegedly picked up a child and tried to run off.

On Wednesday, Crown Counsel approved charges against Kenneth Jim John, 35, for allegedly kidnapping one of the kids in Sabbe's care.

John is also accused of trying to abduct another child blocks away earlier in the day. 

In an interview, Sabbe said she couldn't believe what she experienced at the playground.

"As soon as he sees me get off the playground, he starts running," Sabbe recalled. "He picks up the littlest one, turns around and starts running back."

A Prince George, B.C. daycare owner faced off against a man who is now charged with kidnapping 2:12

Sabbe shouted for the suspect to "drop him" and to "let him go," but she said he refused. When Sabbe caught up to him, she put him in a headlock.

"I put my arm around his head, and I'm able to pull hard enough backwards that he hit the ground," Sabbe recalled. 

Harwin Elementary School playground in Prince George, B.C., the site of an attempted abduction. (Wil Fundal)

Sabbe rounded up the children to the highest point of the playgound, but she said the suspect ran towards them. 

She started screaming for help, kicking the suspect, and eventually jumped on the man to try to get him away. But it didn't appear to have any effect.

"He was stone faced. He never said a word the entire time, which made it that much scarier."

Someone in a nearby home heard her screams and called police. 

When the sounds of the sirens drew close, Sabbe said the suspect ran towards a nearby ball park where police arrested him.

Prince George RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass warned that intervening in an incident like the one Sabbe encountered can be dangerous. (Wil Fundal)

Cpl. Craig Douglass says he likely would have done the same thing, but warned that intervening in an incident like this can be dangerous.

"He could have pulled out a knife, or another weapon and it could be a completely different investigation," said Douglass. 

John is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 23.

For more stories from northern B.C., see Daybreak North.  

About the Author

Wil Fundal


Wil Fundal is an award winning News and Current Affairs multimedia journalist in northern B.C. When he's not digging into a story, he sings as a tenor, and participates in community theatre productions.