SINGAPORE - A man accused in a viral Facebook post of picking up a toddler in a Giant grocery store over the weekend, with an implied intention of taking him away, has been identified as a person with special needs.
Police told The Straits Times on Monday (April 30) that it was not a case of attempted abduction, while confirming that a report was lodged.
"A 31-year-old man with special needs is currently assisting with investigations," said the police.
"We urge members of the public not to speculate or spread unsubstantiated information which may generate unnecessary public alarm."
Madam Nur Syahirah Mohd Amin, 26, wrote in a post on Saturday that she had been queueing up to pay for groceries at the Giant outlet in Jurong's IMM, when a man in red suddenly carried her son, who is just over a year old.
She told The Straits Times on Monday that he looked like he wanted to take her son away but was stopped by her husband, who was nearby, before he could.
"My husband was shocked. He asked him - why did you carry my son? I'm not sure what his intention was. He looked like he wanted to take my son away but I don't know where to," she said.
The incident escalated and Giant staff, security and the police were called in.
"It became a police case because the guy in red said he wanted to call the police, so my husband called them as well, and they came within 10 minutes," said Madam Syahirah.
The incident occurred between 5pm and 6pm on Saturday.
Madam Syahirah, who works in administration, said she posted the information to ask parents to be alert to their surroundings.
Her Facebook post has gone viral, with more than 1,200 likes and 6,600 shares. The post has since been made private.
When contacted, the toddler's father, Mr Mohamed Haziz, expressed shock that the man has special needs.
The 40-year-old aircraft technician said that his wife had shared the incident to tell her friends with young kids to be vigilant.
The Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) said in a Facebook post on Monday that the man in red was one of its trainees who had mild intellectual disability.
APSN said the matter was a misunderstanding, based on its understanding of the case.
It said the man had approached the boy as he was shouting and had picked him up as he thought the child was lost.
APSN said the police took statements from the man, who assisted in investigations.
“APSN would like to reassure members of the public that we are working closely with the trainee and his family, the police and all relevant authorities towards the resolution of this matter,” it said.