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Missing boy found safe, mother charged
Published Friday, March 15, 2019 9:56PM MDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 16, 2019 4:37PM MDT
The Edmonton boy for whom police issued an Amber Alert Friday night has been found safe.
The eight-year-old was located at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning with his mother in Okotoks, about 45 kilometres south of Calgary.
Police said the boy was unharmed.
The alert was issued Friday evening after police said he was taken from his school around 2:50 p.m. While Edmonton Police Service knew the boy’s mother was not supposed to be in custody of him, an officer said they had to consider the eight-year-old was abducted by a stranger.
The alert issued that evening said the child was believed to be in “imminent danger.”
“He was not taken with a jacket or his shoes, he was simply left with the school shoes he was wearing, and we knew that there was a marked change in the communication from the suspect as well,” Ashley Emerson, a staff sergeant and watch commander with the EPS southeast division, explained.
According to Emerson, the alert was not issued until 9:45 p.m. because it took time to determine whether the case met the criteria of activating an Amber Alert.
“We considered the Amber Alert early, we just didn’t believe we were there yet,” the sergeant said.
A second alert was issued just before midnight with information the mother had switched to a second vehicle, which police said was obtained from a relative. That family was not attempting to evade police, police believe.
An off-duty Calgary officer spotted the mother and son while driving in Okotoks around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. Local RCMP conducted the vehicle stop to arrest the woman and recover the child.
Brianne Hjalte, from Edmonton, faces one charge of abduction under the Criminal Code.
Police said several Alberta agencies helped track down the pair and thanked those who shared information related to the Amber Alert.
However, some members of the public expressed dissatisfaction with the system online.
“I think it’s unfortunate if people are upset about receiving an Amber Alert. Obviously, that’s why we don’t undertake using the Amber Alert system lightly,” Emerson said.
“We were able to safely recover this eight-year-old because of the system, so we’re very happy to have it, and I believe the majority of citizens are more than happy to assist us in those investigations.”
The boy and his father were reunited Saturday morning.