Woman accused of using bear spray to abduct Ottawa newborn on Mother's Day
OTTAWA -- A Quebec woman is facing charges after allegedly breaking into the Ottawa home of a new mother and using bear spray on the occupants before abducting an eight-day-old infant.
In a release, police said the accused had met the victim on a social media group for new mothers and dropped off a gift at the west end Ottawa home on Friday. At around 1:40 p.m. Sunday, the accused returned to the victim's home, forced her way inside and allegedly used bear repellent on the occupants and abducted the baby.
Neighbours, alerted by the commotion, were able to chase the accused down and detain her until police arrived.
The baby was assessed by Ottawa paramedics and was found to be unharmed.
In a post on social media the mother, whom CTV News Ottawa is not naming in order to protect her identity, said the accused claimed the newborn was actually hers.
"[S]he bear maced me in the face and screamed that I stole her baby. She took my son and ran off with him and my neighbour took off and thankfully got him back unharmed," the mother wrote.
"My daughter was maced it took hours to be able to open my eyes."
Nicole Shanks, 32, of Shawville, Que. is now facing numerous charges including abduction, assault, breaking and entering and weapon possession. She appeared in court Monday morning for a show cause hearing and was remanded into custody. Her next court appearance will be May 14.
None of the charges have been tested in court.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference Monday afternoon, Ottawa Police Staff Sgt. Martin Groulx said the accused was in contact with the mother via Facebook and used her real name and photo in her interactions with the victim.
"The accused got in contact with the mother through a chat group on Facebook. The accused informed the mother that she had won a prize and she delivered it on Friday. That's how she was able to obtain the address," he said.
Groulx would not speak to any possible motive, and said he was unaware of whether the accused had any previous interactions with Ottawa police.
The family members who were sprayed with the bear repellent were treated by paramedics and Groulx said they had not suffered any serious injuries.
Police believe the accused may have engaged with other new mothers through social media and the investigation remains active.
Anyone with information regarding this abduction is asked to call the Ottawa police sexual assault child abuse unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5944.
Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca.
Groulx said the case shows the risks inherent with meeting strangers from the internet. He said that if you do plan to meet someone in person, to do it in a public place rather than at your home address.
"You never know who is on the other side of the screen," he said.