DeLAND, Fla. – In an attempt to kidnap a 5-year-old boy, a DeLand man told his mother, "I want your son," and then grabbed the boy's arm and attempted to walk away with him, officials with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.
Aung Pyo, 26, did not succeed, as the boy's family intervened to protect the child, deputies said, and now Pyo is charged with attempted kidnapping, among other charges.
Deputies said the family was walking to a picnic table Wednesday night at its apartment complex at 300 S. Spring Garden Ave. when Pyo approached the boy.
The victim's mother said Pyo repeatedly told her, "I want your son," before grabbing him. The 5-year-old's uncle and stepfather didn't allow that and a friend took the boy into an apartment. Pyo, however, ran to the door and attempted to get inside and "coax the boy out," the family told deputies.
"This grown man is still sitting here arguing with all of us," the boy's mother said in the 911 call. "He's trying to coax my 5-year-old son, with all of us sitting out here, to come outside."
The victim's mother said the family has lived at the apartment complex for two years and she doesn't know if Pyo has ever tried to contact her son before.
During the 911 call, the mother asked Pyo why he was trying to take her son.
"You are not about to go in there and touch my son. Why are you trying to go into my house? What the (expletive) is wrong with you?" she is heard saying in the 911 call.
Gary Johnson said he took action when his stepson encountered Pyo.
"I chased him to here and I pushed him. I said, 'Dude, go this way. We don’t know who you are. You’re not supposed to be here,'" Johnson said.
Authorities arrived and arrested Pyo. He is charged with attempted kidnapping, child abuse without great bodily harm and burglary of an occupied structure. The 26-year-old is being held without bail in the Volusia County Branch Jail.
It's the second unusual case of attempted child kidnapping in Volusia County this week.
Deputies said Sarah Freeman, 34, was at a park in Toronita Avenue Beach on Monday when she approached a woman who was 6 months' pregnant who said, “This isn’t a Florida trip you’re going to want to remember,” and then tried to grab the women's child by towel the child was holding, a news release said.
Freeman was arrested a few minutes after the alleged kidnapping attempt.
Deputies said these two cases do not appear to be connected.
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office shared the following tips on keeping children safe:
- Talk to your children about safety and practice with them on how they’d react to an abduction situation. A good place to start is kidsmartz.org.
- Know where your kids are and know the routes they take -- to and from school, common destinations, etc. Practice walking those routes with them, identify any trouble areas and point out places they could go for help.
- Make sure they know the common tricks kidnappers use: offering a ride, money, an animal, candy, etc.
- Although both of these recent incidents involved strangers, remember the majority of abductions involve someone the child knows. Talk to officials at your child's school, day care, etc., to make sure they know who’s authorized to pick up the child.
- Keep an ID kit for your child – photo, age/height/weight, etc. The Sheriff's Office does child fingerprinting at community events such as National Night Out.
- Consider giving older children a cellphone for emergencies. Make sure they memorize your number. Designate a meeting spot where they can find you if you’re separated.