On Saturday, the boy was approached by a man known to his family and invited to play video games, police said. The man told the boy his father had given permission for him to go.
The man had met the boy’s family at a Sikh temple in the fall and convinced them he was a police officer, something he'd been telling the wider community for two years.
Police said that on Saturday, after the man had lured the boy away from his home, he told the child he was at the centre of a sex assault investigation, and the boy would have to go to a hotel with him.
The boy was taken to the Hostel Royal Plaza on Kennedy Street, and once he was inside the hotel room, the man took his phone.
The man also convinced the boy that if he didn’t stay in the room. he might go to jail, showing the child a replica pellet handgun to bolster his story.
“He had shown uniforms, badges that certainly weren't true in any way shape or form,” said Const. Jason Michalyshen of the Winnipeg police.
The man left a note for the family demanding a $500,000 ransom for the boy, threatening to kill him if the money wasn’t handed over.
On Sunday, the family contacted police, who launched an investigation.
At that time the suspect showed up at their home and even stayed while they called police about their missing son.
The boy’s father said that’s when family members became suspicious that the man was not a police officer.
The boy contacted his family on Sunday to tell them where he was and what had happened. He was found unharmed a short while later and was returned to his family.
“There were certain things that just weren't adding up with respect to this individual. We questioned him further, and by that time the young man had made contact with his family, we retrieved him from the hotel,” said Michalyshen. “[A] short time later this individual was arrested and charged.”
A 19-year-old man is facing multiple charges including extortion, kidnapping using a firearm and impersonating a police officer. Prior to this incident, he wasn't known to police.
The boy's father said that even though the ordeal is over, he fears retaliation from the man and is worried about his family’s safety.