West Virginia mother pulls out handgun and scares away man trying to kidnap her 5-year-old daughter
Mohamed Zayan, an Egyptian, was arrested and charged, but later it transpired that it could have been a 'cultural misunderstanding' and the charges were likely to be dropped
An Egyptian man was arrested and charged after he tried to kidnap a five-year-old girl in front of her mother at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville, West Virginia, on the night of Monday, April 1.
Citing a criminal complaint, WSAZ reported that 54-year-old Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, of Alexandria, Egypt, tried to grab the young girl by her hair while at an Old Navy store inside the mall at around 6 pm on Monday.
The girl "dropped to the floor with the male still pulling her away," prompting the child's mother to pull out a handgun and warning Zayan to let her daughter go. Zayan subsequently let go of the girl and ran out of the store into the mall.
The Barboursville Police, who were called to the scene following the incident, said that a short time later, deputies and mall security spotted the 54-year-old walking near the food court area in the mall.
After the mother confirmed that he was the man who tried to nab her daughter, the deputies moved in and arrested him.
He was charged with attempted abduction and arraigned at the Cabell County Courthouse late on Monday night, where his bond was set at $200,000. Because he did not speak English, an interpreter on the phone had to convey information to him, which included the magistrate ordering him to surrender his passport so he could not leave West Virginia.
His preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 8, but there was a twist in the case the next day, April 2, when it was reported that most charges against him were expected to be dropped after the mother recanted her story.
The mother is said to have changed her story after authorities could not find any witnesses to corroborate her original one and also found inconsistencies in the version through video evidence.
She then told investigators that it was possible there may have been a "cultural misunderstanding" between her and Zayan and that he may just have been trying to pat her daughter on the head.
Corky Hammers, who was in charge of prosecuting the case, immediately announced that he was working on paperwork that would see Zayan's bond reduced so he could be released from jail.
The paperwork went through, with the 54-year-old walking out of the Western Regional Jail later the same day.
According to WSAZ, Zayan, an engineer by trade, was emotional as he was greeted by family members outside the jail, openly crying with them. The Egyptian consulate has reportedly been in contact with authorities in the region about the overall incident.
While Zayan may still face battery charges, it is not clear if the mother will face charges for making a false report.