Prince George woman says she fought off alleged child abductor at playground

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A Prince George woman says she had fight off a man who tried to abduct children from a playground.

A Prince George woman says she had to fight off a man who tried to abduct children from a playground.

Chelsi Sabbe, who operates the Tiny Treasure Daycare in Prince George, said she saw a man approach two children at a playground near 12th Avenue and Harper Street around 10:30 a.m Tuesday.

She said he grabbed a four-year-old boy and started running. She chased the man down, jumped on his back and began to choke him until he fell to the ground and let the boy go.

She said the man then grabbed a five-year-old boy.

“I hit him in the throat and knocked his feet out from underneath him,” Sabbe said. “I grabbed the five-year-old and put him up on top of the play centre and I jumped up there.”

She said she put six children up high on the playground equipment to keep them safe and began screaming for help, but the man then tried to grab a six-year-old girl.

“He starts throwing punches. He hits me in the face several times. I then knocked him down again off of the playground equipment.”

She says she then put the man in a headlock and told the children to run to safety.

“He jumps up, he again punches me several times in the head and we go at it,” she said. “At this time, it kind of turned nasty. I had to grab him by the hair and knee him in the face a few times, and then he ran away.”

Sabbe, who has mixed martial arts training, suffered bruises on her arm and neck, plus swollen hands from the punches she threw.

“I never expected myself to be able to take down a grown man, and unfortunately you have to get quite physical to do so,” she said. “He was very persistent and it had to get violent. I had no choice but to hurt him and get him on the ground. There was no way I was letting him get away with one of the children.”

Just minutes before police were called to the incident at the playground, a man had allegedly grabbed a young boy who was with his mother.

Kenneth Jim John, 35, was arrested and has been charged with two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of assault and obstructing a peace officer.

RCMP said John is well-known to police and has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2000.

—With files from CKPG and The Canadian Press

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