Baby snatcher revealed

Alanna Kelly

A professional Canadian hockey player has been charged after a bizarre incident in which a small child was grabbed from its mother's arms and ended with the suspect being arrested, naked, in Okanagan Lake.

The baby snatching unfolded on the downtown Kelowna waterfront Sunday afternoon, as a family was standing near The Sails.

Former Kamloops Blazers defenceman and international pro hockey player Giffen Nyren, of Calgary, has been charged in the disturbing incident. 

Witnesses say a ‘normal’ looking man walked up and forcibly yanked the baby from a woman’s arms.

Sheridan Primson watched the incident and said the mother screamed: "My baby, my baby!"

“He had the baby in his arms. People jumped on him right away and were having a tug-of-war with the baby,” Primson recalled. "The guy who grabbed the baby said ‘I thought the baby was going to be hurt.’"

The baby was rescued, but the suspect broke free from the group, stripped, and jumped into the lake. 

Police say the baby was uninjured, but was examined at the hospital prior to being released. The family is being supported by RCMP Victim Services.

RCMP officers rushed to Kerry Park, where a large crowd of people were watching the drama unfold. They chased the naked man as he swam away to a log boom near the Kelowna Yacht Club.

Nyren is charged with assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

Friends of Nyren tell Castanet that he was visiting Kelowna and had been acting “stranger than usual.” Lifelong friends describe the 30-year-old as being a normal guy. 

Nyren played five years in the Western Hockey League, and also played in the American Hockey League for the Abbotsford Heat in the 2010 season and at the University of Calgary. He started this past hockey season in a French professional league. 

Nyren is reportedly in a hospital at this time. It is unclear when he will make his first appearance in court. 

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