BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) — A sensational case of an attempted child kidnapping in a West Virginia shopping mall may have been nothing more than a man being friendly to a little girl.
Barboursville police initially said a woman pulled a gun on the man, forcing him to release her 5-year-old daughter. Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan was arrested near the Huntington Mall’s food court on an attempted abduction charge Monday.
Zayan, 54, an engineer from Alexandria, Egypt, who is in the area for work, was released from jail Tuesday night on a reduced bond. News outlets report he cried as he greeted family members. Police Sgt. Anthony Jividen said a prosecutor will have to decide whether to charge the woman instead.
The woman at first told police Zayan grabbed the girl by the hair and tried to pull her away from inside a clothing store. Jividen said while no witnesses could be found, mall surveillance video showed inconsistencies in the woman’s original statement.
Jividen said the woman later told investigators she may have overreacted and misinterpreted the man’s intentions. Zayan doesn’t speak English and police say he may have simply been patting the girl on the head.
Jividen said the prosecutor also would have to determine whether Zayan would face a potential battery charge because of “the uninvited touching of a child. Even though there was an overreaction by the mother, it was not completely baseless.”
A telephone message left with the Cabell County prosecutor wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.