Multiple charges have been laid against a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl after a woman said two young people tried to snatch her baby last night in suburban Toronto.
The incident occurred around 10:45 p.m. ET on Livingston Road in the Guildwood area of Scarborough, Toronto police said.
The woman, 29, was walking home from the Guildwood GO Train station with her 21-month-old daughter and says she was followed by two people and ultimately attacked.
"I just acted on instinct to protect my daughter," said the mother, who does not want to be named. "I am very shaken by everything. They wanted [my daughter]. I am afraid it might happen to somebody else."
'You're not thinking that it could ever happen to you.' - Sue Underhay, neighbour
According to police, the woman was grabbed from behind and ordered to hand over her baby daughter, money and cellphone.
The woman told CBC News she was punched in the abdomen and hit with some sort of sharp object.
Throughout the assault, the perpetrators threatened to hurt the baby, police said.
The woman said she managed to hunch over, shielding her baby from the attack until she fell backwards. The female attacker managed to grab the baby briefly, but the woman managed to pull the child back into her own arms, police said.
After failing to snatch the baby, the pair kicked and punched the woman and stole her backpack, which contained her wedding ring, before fleeing.
The woman reported the attack to police immediately after it happened. Officers arrested a girl moments after arriving at scene. The 14-year-old boy was arrested at about 12:15 a.m. Friday after a six-car team was deployed by police to establish a perimeter around the area.
The mother was treated for minor injuries in hospital was released this morning, and her baby is doing fine.
"No robbery or criminal offence is acceptable, but this offends, I believe, every person in our society — that they've targeted the most vulnerable," said acting 43 Division unit commander Art Little at an afternoon news conference.
'Although they are accused of violent criminal acts, they need help.' - Art Little, Toronto Police Services unit commander
Little said the case has shocked officers under his command.
"We have all heard of familial abductions, but this is unique in many officers' careers, including mine," he said.
Both suspects are from Toronto and are currently being held in custody while investigators await the results of psychiatric evaluations, police said.
'They need help'
The pair is also suspected in a separate robbery that occurred several hours earlier at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday. Police said a 38-year-old woman was pushed to the ground and robbed in the Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue East area.
The female suspect has been charged with abduction of a person under 14, assault, uttering threats, and two counts of robbery. The boy has been charged with abduction of a person under 14, assault, and two counts of robbery, uttering threats, breach of recognizance and failure to comply with an undertaking.
Little said that investigators have asked various agencies that assist victims to step in not only for the mother and her baby, but for the young suspects as well.
"Although they are accused of violent criminal acts, they need help," said Little.
Both suspects appeared in a Toronto court Friday morning. Neither can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"The offence itself is shocking because this is an otherwise good area. This is a community. There [are] homes here, a local school and a little plaza," said Staff Sgt. Peter Moreira.
"This is shocking to the members of this community, regardless of who is committing the offence …," he said. "Obviously it's disappointing for everyone involved."
Sue Underhay said the incident is a reality check for everyone living in the neighbourhood.
"You're not thinking that it could ever happen to you. I can imagine that every time she steps out now, she's going to be thinking about it and be frightened for her kid."