Manitoba

Man wanted in connection with 'random' kidnapping of woman, toddler believed to be in Winnipeg: RCMP

Manitoba RCMP are searching for a man they say was involved in what they're calling the "random" kidnapping of a toddler and 25-year-old woman on Friday, after she stopped to help a man on the side of road who appeared to be in distress.

Child, woman found safe, but Michael Klimchuk remains at large, RCMP say

RCMP are asking for the public's help in finding Michael Klimchuk, 62, who is a suspect in the kidnapping of a 25-year-old woman and her two-year-old child. (Submitted by RCMP)

Manitoba RCMP are searching for a man they say was involved in what they're calling the "random" kidnapping of a toddler and 25-year-old woman on Friday, after she stopped to help a man on the side of road who appeared to be in distress.

Both the woman and toddler are now safe, but police are looking for Michael Klimchuk, 62, the suspect in the kidnapping.

At a Saturday afternoon news conference, RCMP described a string of events that led to the kidnapping.

Around 4:30 p.m. Friday, RCMP responded to a report of a man using drugs and behaving erratically at a hotel parking lot in Portage la Prairie, about 85 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

The man spoke briefly with officers, before he put his vehicle into reverse and rammed a police vehicle.

He then drove the vehicle forward, apparently trying to hit the officers, before reversing again into the police vehicle and finally driving off, RCMP said.

They began a chase after the vehicle — a van they found had been stolen in Winnipeg — but stopped after the driver used dangerous tactics, such as driving into oncoming traffic, police said.

At some point, the man abandoned the vehicle, police say.

That's when the 25-year-old woman stopped on the side of the road near Portage la Prairie to help the man, who appeared to be in medical distress. 

He was, in fact, pretending to be in medical distress. He got into her vehicle and demanded she drive him to Winnipeg.

The woman and the kidnapper did not know each other, RCMP said.

Police say around 5:20 p.m., RCMP learned about a 911 call from someone who lived east of Portage la Prairie. A male and female voice were heard before the call was disconnected.

Officers went to the residence where the phone call originated, where they learned that a 25-year-old woman and her two-year-old child had been kidnapped.

Their vehicle was also taken, and officers found the suspect's van nearby.

Information given to police led them to believe the man was headed to Winnipeg, and a search began involving RCMP and Winnipeg police, including RCMP air services and the Winnipeg police helicopter.

Around 6:30 p.m., the woman who had been kidnapped contacted police, telling them that she and her two-year-old daughter were safe in Winnipeg's Polo Park area. The man who kidnapped them had fled the vehicle, she told police.

"This was an extremely difficult situation and we'd like to acknowledge the victim who did everything she could to keep herself and her child safe," RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Julie Courchene said at Saturday's news conference.

RCMP said an Amber Alert had been created and was in the process of being sent when the woman contacted police.

They have now identified Klimchuk, from Winnipeg, as the suspect in the kidnapping, and say they believe he is still in the Winnipeg area.

Courchene said that Klimchuk is known to police.

He is five foot eight and 220 pounds, with long brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket and light-coloured pants. 

He's wanted on several charges, including two counts each of kidnapping and forcible confinement, three counts of assault with a weapon on a police officer and possession of stolen property over $5,000.

Anyone with information about his location is asked to call local police immediately.

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