BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (AP/FOX 10) - Police in West Virginia now say the mother of a child may have misjudged a man's actions at a shopping mall, which led to her pulling out a gun.
According to the Barboursville Police Department, the woman stated to 911 dispatchers that while she was in a department store, a male suspect of Middle Eastern descent attempted to grab her 5-year-old daughter by the hair and abduct her from the store. Officials say the mother pulled out a gun and told the suspect to let go of the child. The man released the child and was later detained by mall security and Barboursville police near a food court.
Based on statements from the woman and the child victim, the suspect, identified as 54-year-old Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan of Alexandria, Egypt, was arrested. He was arraigned Monday night in Cabell County Magistrate Court on a felony charge of attempted abduction.
The following morning, detectives returned to the store where the alleged incident occurred.
"Video evidence, along with other investigative procedures, revealed some inconsistency with the female witness’s original statement. No witnesses to the alleged crime could be found," stated police. "During the interview with the female witness, detectives discovered more inconsistencies to the original statement. Female witness (mother of the child) eventually told detectives that she might have misjudged the suspect’s actions, overreacted to the uninvited touching of her daughter, and misinterpreted the intentions of the male suspect. Female witness also stated that the more she thought about it, the more she realized it might have been a cultural misunderstanding and that the suspect might have just been patting her daughter on the head and smiling."
Zayan was being jailed on a $200,000 cash bond. Jail records didn't indicate whether he has an attorney.
The prosecutor's office will decide if the charge against Zayan will be dropped and if the mother will be charged in this case.