Father speaks out after stranger grabs stroller with child inside in New Westminster, BC

A father from New Westminster, B.C., is speaking out after a disturbing and random attack in which a stranger grabbed his young daughter’s stroller with the child inside.

Dustin Lawton said the incident happened last Friday, while he was out for an evening walk with his one year-old daughter Freya and her mother. Suddenly, a stranger approached them in the area of 6th and Carnarvon streets. Lawton said they sensed something was wrong and started to leave.

“He started walking towards me and I thought he was just joking around or something, ’cause I didn’t expect this to happen,” Lawton said. “He grabbed the stroller, and he had the stroller up off four wheels, and he was just trying to rip it from my hands.”

Lawton said the man also tried to grab the hood of his daughter’s clothing. He knocked the stranger to the ground, but said the man later got up and continued into the intersection.

“He went out in the middle of the street and started hitting this guy’s car,” Lawton said. “They got out and he started swinging at them, and his girlfriend ended up tripping him up backwards.”

Lawton shot cellphone video showing a man and woman in an altercation with another man in the middle of the street. The man eventually falls to the ground.

New Westminster police said they were called to the intersection at about 7:45 p.m., and added one of their officers was spat on while arresting the suspect.

Charges of assaulting a police officer and mischief have been laid against 46-year-old New Westminster resident Jamie Maclean. Maclean has been released from custody with conditions to stay away from Lawton and two others, and to not possess weapons.

Sgt. Sanjay Kumar said the motive is still under investigation.

“At this time, there’s nothing to suggest there were drugs on board, alcohol, or even if there were mental health issues, but again, as we gather more information, we’ll hopefully get a better understanding of what was going through that individual’s mind,” he said. “We have had some files with this individual before but nothing to this extent.”

Kumar also applauded Lawton’s actions.

“The mother and father did the right thing by defending themselves, by fighting off this person and by getting to safety so other people could intervene and hold this person down until police arrived on scene,” he said. “Every parent has a right to defend themselves and their children.”

Lawton doesn’t feel the charges go far enough.

“Not attempted kidnapping, not child endangerment, none of that. Just the mischief charge, and he’s out now,” Lawton said. “I just think it’s a slap in the face to us and any other parent that walks around here at night.”

Kumar said additional charges are a possibility as more evidence is gathered in the investigation.

In the meantime, Lawton said his child’s mother no longer feels comfortable going for walks at night.

“We walk here all the time,” he said. “Now I don’t even want to come out here to walk.”

The case is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 2.


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