It was crowded in Montreal’s Jeanne-Mance Park on Saturday afternoon. The girl was there with her family as well as many other families. A celebrity charity baseball game was taking place, consisting of such Montreal notables as former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque and Bill “Spaceman” Lee, a former Montreal Expos pitcher.
Around 2 p.m., a man allegedly spoke to the seven-year-old girl before grabbing her arm and walking away with her. After the girl screamed, between 20 and 30 people, including the girl’s father and celebrities including Laraque, ran over. The man was taken to the ground and surrounded so he could not get away. The 24-year-old remained on the ground until police arrived and arrested him.
Laraque, who played 13 seasons in the NHL and took part in 100 fights, told CBC News he intended to tackle the man if he got up and tried to get away. He didn’t. The former NHL star also described the incident as “crazy.” Laraque said, “I have twins and this could happen to anyone.” He added everyone has heard stories about a child being abducted but to actually see it is “pretty scary.”
André Leclerc, a constable with the Montreal police, said charges have not yet been laid. Investigators prepared a report for Quebec prosecutors and charges may be laid later this week. Leclerc also said the man was not known to police and he will probably undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Pina Arcamone, of the Missing Children’s Network, told CTV News this was not a typical abduction attempt. Usually predators will attempt to lure a child rather than just grab them. And predators do not usually grab children in crowded places.
Charges are expected to be laid this week and could come as early as today against the yet unidentified man.