Georges Laraque helps detain man in attempted child kidnapping at Jeanne-Mance Park
Suspect allegedly grabbed a 7-year-old girl who was in the park with her parents
A brazen midday attempt to kidnap a seven-year-old child in a Montreal park on Saturday was thwarted when family members tackled the suspect.
Moments later retired NHL tough-guy Georges Laraque appeared and helped watch over the man until police arrived.
The young girl was with her parents in Jeanne-Mance Park, a popular downtown greenspace, when a man spoke to her, police said.
The man then allegedly grabbed the girl and walked away. He didn't make it far before being wrestled to the ground.
Nicole Legault, who was in the park at the time of the altercation, looked up when she heard a woman screaming hysterically.
"She was obviously very upset," Legault said. As a crowd gathered she began telling people that the man on the ground had tried to kidnap her child.
Charity baseball players step in
Laraque was playing in a celebrity baseball game in a nearby diamond when the commotion erupted. The game immediately stopped and a group ran over to see what happened, he said.
About 20 to 30 people surrounded the suspect to ensure he couldn't leave the park until he was in police custody.
"I just wanted to make sure that if he got up that I was going to tackle him right away," said Laraque, who racked up 1,126 penalty minutes over his 13-year NHL career.
Julien Harvey, the organizer of the Pouzza Grand Slam charity baseball game that Laraque played in, said it happened near the end of the game and one of the staff members called 911. The group stayed with the suspect and the family, according to Harvey.
"Someone from the gang just sat him [the suspect] down and at that point everybody just arrived on [the scene]," Harvey said.
Some of the women also tried to calm and comfort the family.
Laraque described the incident as "crazy," adding that it made him feel "a little scared" as a father.
"I have twins and this could happen to anyone," Laraque said. "We've heard stories of a child being abducted and to see [something] like that — it's pretty scary."
Investigators are questioning a 24-year-old man.
Police say the man may undergo a psychological evaluation.
With files from Antoni Nerestant and Jay Turnbull