Brittany Briere says a potential abduction attempt involving three of her family members feels like something out of a movie.
“You never really know when it’s going to happen to you,” she told CBC News.
Briere said her future sister-in law, 22, was walking toward Norseman Park in Regina’s Harbour Landing with her two-year-old daughter and Briere’s eight-year-old stepdaughter on Friday evening. Briere was with them initially but stopped to talk with a friend.
Briere’s future sister-in-law later told her a man approached them while they were walking and started asking personal questions, like how the group was related and if the 22-year-old was single, along with the kids’ names and birthdays.
The man then started walking alongside the group and picked up the two-year-old girl.
“He was trying to hold her very close to his body, but she immediately started crying and leaned away from him for her mom,” Briere said.
“My sister-in-law described it as … that mom instinct kind of kicked in and she said her brain just kept saying, ‘Get her back, get her back, you have to get her back,'” she said.
The two-year old’s reaction was the main reason her mother was able to get her back, according to Briere,
“We’re so lucky and so grateful that she was able to get her back.”
‘Safety has to trump politeness.’
The situation didn’t end there. The man stayed with the group until they got to the playground, according to Briere.
Once they arrived, Briere said her future sister-in-law had to put the two-year-old down. The man then tried to leave with Briere’s stepdaughter by telling the eight-year-old he wanted to go for a walk with her.
However, Briere’s future sister-in-law quickly called the girl back by raising her voice and using a stern tone. Two teenagers who were close by while the situation was unfolding also came to the group’s aid.
The man then left the park and the police were called.
“As her stepmother, my skin crawls and I start to feel very emotional and basically guilty that I wasn’t there because I had stopped and they had went ahead,” Briere said.
“I’m trying not to blame myself because obviously what this man did, his behaviour, is in nobody’s control except his own,” she said.
“But, you know, your mind starts to run through all these worst case scenarios and I don’t know what I would have done if he actually had been able to walk away with my stepdaughter.”
Although no one was physically hurt, Briere said the incident can serve as a warning to others — especially women.
Briere said she and her future sister-in-law both agree that women are more of a target for this type of situation and need to be vigilant by keeping conversations with strangers short and sweet, keeping little ones a little closer and always travelling in groups.
She also has some advice for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation: “There comes a point when safety has to trump politeness.”
Regina police confirmed on Saturday they were called to the area at about 8:45 p.m. CST and an investigation is now underway.
Briere commended the officers who attended the scene, saying they were thorough, kind and helpful.
She also has a message for the two teenagers who stepped in to help: “On behalf of all of the families involved, thank you to them.”
She also referred to their efforts as “tremendous.”
In a news release, police said the suspect is described as about 20 to 30 years old, between 5’11” and 6’0″ with a thin build, along with a dark complexion, brown eyes and a short scruffy beard. It said he was wearing a black hoodie pulled up over his head, black sweatpants and black shoes.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the police at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.