Canada Mother's Day kidnapping of newborn thwarted

OTTAWA (AFP) - A 32-year-old Canadian woman forced her way into a family home in Ottawa on Mothers' Day, used bear repellent spray to subdue the adults and ran off with a newborn before being caught, police said Monday (May 10).

Neighbours gave chase and detained the woman, before the eight-day old baby, whose gender is not known, was returned unharmed.

Nicole Shanks, who lives in Quebec province, has been charged with administering a noxious substance, assault with a weapon, and abduction of a child.

Ottawa police officer Martin Groulx told a news conference that the suspect had contacted the mother on a social media chat group.

She "informed the mother she'd been randomly selected as a winner of a prize" and delivered it last Friday, he said.

Two days later, on Mother's Day, the woman returned and sprayed occupants of the house with the highly irritant aerosol that can cause a temporary loss of sight and breathing difficulties, and ran into the street with the baby in her arms.

Neighbours managed to catch up to Shanks and hold her until police arrived. Paramedics said the baby was not injured.

"We have no idea what is the motive, but we're still investigating," Mr Groulx said, warning that the suspect may have also reached out to other new mothers on social media.

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