TORONTO - A 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy face a slew of charges in what police are labelling an "alarming" attempt to abduct an infant from her mother in Toronto.
In the incident that one police officer described as "unique," the young duo allegedly grabbed a 29-year-old woman from behind as she was walking with her infant late Thursday and demanded she hand over her daughter along with her money and her cellphone.
"This is a very alarming situation for having the effort to abduct a child...The fact that it was committed allegedly by a 12-year-old female suspect and a 14-year-old is a major cause for concern," Insp. Art Little told reporters.
"I don't know the motive for them desiring to take the child. I believe this is what is so offensive to our society."
The mother was carrying her 21-month-old daughter while walking in a quiet residential area around 11 p.m. in the city's east end when she heard footsteps behind her, said Little.
"These two suspects assaulted her, punched, kicked her, knocked her to the ground, and demanded her valuables, cash, phone and her baby," he said.
"They continued to kick and punch her without any regard for the safety of the infant in her arms and at one point even managed to wrest the infant from her grasp. She fought back and was able to get her baby back."
The two young alleged assailants then continued to assault the mother before grabbing her purse and other valuables and fleeing on foot, Little said, adding that they threatened to harm the baby as they left.
The mother had her cellphone in her coat pocket and was able to call police, who arrived within minutes and captured the 12-year-old suspect a short distance away. More officers were then called in and the 14-year-old boy was located shortly after, Little said.
The mother and her baby were taken to hospital, where the mother was treated for minor injuries. The baby was not hurt, police said.
The incident was all the more shocking because of the alleged young suspects' distinct demands for the mother to hand over her child, Little said.
"That was verbalized in the offence...'Give us your money and give us your baby,'" Little recounted. "This is unique in many officers' careers, including mine. It has concern for all parents."
The two young suspects were not known to the mother, said Little, who suggested she was targeted because she was considered a "vulnerable" target walking late at night.
The young duo are also suspects in a purse-snatching that took place earlier Thursday night.
The youths, who cannot be publicly identified because of their age, appeared in court Friday morning and remain in custody.
A psychiatric evaluation of both suspects has been ordered, their mothers have been contacted and children's aid is involved, Little said.
The 14-year-old boy is known to police and has been charged in another matter.
"Although accused of violent criminal acts, they need help and we are part of the network of organizations who can give that to them," Little said of the young duo. "This is certainly not indicative of youth ... in the whole city."