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A New York City man who tried to snatch a five-year-old boy from the street appeared before a judge on Friday to face attempted kidnapping charges.
James McGonagle, 24, was charged with attempted kidnapping in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child following the July 15 incident.
The child, Jacob Lopez Diaz, was walking with his family at 8pm when he was grabbed and shoved into McGonagle’s car. His nine-year-old brother, Benny, pleaded with McGonagle to give him back, allowing his mother, Dolores Diaz Lopez, 45, pull him out of the car through a window.
‘In a brazen fashion, the defendant grabbed the little boy, who was just a few steps from his mother, and allegedly tried to kidnap him,’ said Melinda Katz, Queens district attorney.
James McGonagle, 24, appeared in Queens Supreme Court on Friday to face two counts related to the July 15 attempted kidnapping. He pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody
McGonagle, handcuffed and with his legs in shackles, had been in the psychiatric ward of jail
McGonagle was arrested in the early hours of July 16 after hospital staff recognized him
McGonagle’s mother Cassandra, 53, recognized her son from police appeals and confirmed his identity – and that of her husband, his father, who was with him at the time
After the brief hearing, McGonagle was transported to Rikers Island where he will await his next court appearance on September 8
‘This is a parent’s worst fear. This mother fought to save her son. Never underestimate the strength of a mom.
‘Thankfully he has been apprehended and will face justice.’
McGonagle pleaded not guilty, and was remanded to Rikers Island without bail.
He will return to court on September 8, and faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
Police are still hunting for his father, also James McGonagle, 55, who was with him at the time.
James McGonagle, 24, right, has been arrested for allegedly trying to kidnap a five-year-old boy in broad daylight. His father, also named James McGonagle, left, was with him at the time
James McGonagle, 24, is seen in the NYPD’s wanted poster. He was arrested hours after the attempted kidnapping
Surveillance footage showed the younger McGonagle leap from a nearby car and snatch Jacob off the sidewalk, throwing the little boy into his car.
The district attorney said that, during the struggle, a male passenger who had been seated in the vehicle was heard asking McGonagle: ‘What are you doing?’
McGonagle allegedly responded: ‘We are taking the kid.’
Diaz told WABC that she and her children were on their way to visit their father around 8pm, on Hillside Avenue in the New York City borough of Queens.
She said McGonagle jumped out of a parked maroon sedan and ran at them.
Diaz, with her young son Benny and her daughter Zuriely, eight, chased after the kidnappers.
‘I said: “Oh my God, my kids, oh my God, my boy,”‘ Diaz said.
She told WNYW: ‘I fought.
‘They say you fight tooth and nail for your children and that’s what I did.’
Dolores Diaz Lopez was walking in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens when McGonagle tried to grab her five-year-old son Jacob from the sidewalk.
Jacob Diaz, 5, is pictured safe in his home after his horrific kidnapping attempt
A mother was walking with her children on Hillside Avenue in Queens on Thursday evening when her five-year-son became the victim of a brazen attempted kidnapping
A man in a white T-shirt emerges from a maroon sedan and runs up to the family, who apparently did not know him
Surveillance video shows the man scoop up the five-year-old boy and carry him to the car. The recording released by the NYPD does not have audio
The suspect stuffs the boy into the back seat of the sedan while being pursued by the boy’s family
The mother jumps into action, grabs her son through the front passenger window and pulls him out of the car
Police say the boy was not harmed during the thwarted kidnapping
Benny told The New York Daily News that McGonagle allegedly told his accomplice: ‘We are taking the kid!’
According to the boy, the older man allegedly responded: ‘No, leave him!’
Benny said: ‘I was telling the man: “Give me my brother back!”
‘My brother was intelligent and stood up and my mother got him by his arms.’
He added: ‘If they didn’t give my brother back I would have had to punch them.’
Zuriely said she heard McGonagle say: ‘Give me that stupid kid back.’
Jacob was not injured. His family said he was scared but did not cry through horrific encounter.
The car then sped off.
Shortly after the incident, McGonagle, who is from Pomonok in Queens, New York, went to Brookdale Hospital and punched an innocent bystander in the face.
In the ensuing fight, he was injured and went to hospital with facial injuries, in the early hours of July 16. Medics recognized him from police appeals and he was arrested.
Investigators contacted McGonagle’s mother, Cassandra, 53, who positively identified both her husband and her son as the two men who were pictured on surveillance footage during the attempted abduction.
They said there is no evidence that the suspects knew the boy’s mother.
Diaz told the New York Daily News that she was ‘so happy’ to hear McGonagle had been arrested.
When interviewed by the Daily News on Friday, Jacob wore a shirt that read ‘Proud to be a Mama’s Boy.’
Diaz told WABC that all three of her children are now ‘traumatized’ and refuse to leave the house.
‘Mothers have to be careful with their children,’ she said.
‘Always hold their hand when walking with them, because there are a lot of evil people and you never know who is near.
‘But now I know the man is not on the street and now I can rest and I know my family is okay.
‘He can’t do this with another kid.’
The incident comes as crime rates in New York continue to soar, with gun violence surging and attacks on the city’s subway systems and in the streets becoming increasingly common.
Anyone with information on the thwarted kidnapping in Queens is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).