BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Eugenia Flores, middle, was shocked when an intruder came into the family home and was found cradling her daughter Lindsay. Her stepsons Vidal, left, and Jesus, right, were out with their father Armando Hernandez when the intruder walked in the front door.
A Brandon mother says she has been left shaken but is happy that her two-month-old daughter is OK after a stranger walked into her house and cradled the girl in his arm.
When Eugenia Flores saw the strange man standing in her home holding her baby, she thought he was about to steal her child.
He fled the home with the little girl but left her on the front lawn, to the relief of her terrified mother.
"It was scary," Flores said.
Flores is originally from El Salvador and her two stepsons, 15-year-old Vidal and eight-year-old Jesus, and their father, Armando Hernandez, are from Honduras.
Hernandez and Flores met here while working at the Maple Leaf plant, married, and the Spanish-speaking family now lives in their Brandon home. A new addition to the family, Lindsay, was born about two months ago.
On Friday, however, their lives took a frightening turn.
Flores, whose English isn’t as strong as the other members of her family, shared her story on Monday with the help of Vidal, who served as translator.
Flores said she and Lindsay were home alone on Friday around 1:15 p.m. Her husband was at work and her two sons were at the grocery store.
She said she was cooking in the kitchen while her daughter was seated in a small swing that was resting in the hallway, near the front door.
It was 25 C to 26 C that afternoon and their small Brandon home is cooled by a small wall-mounted air conditioning unit which doesn’t work well.
It was hot in the house, so little Lindsay was placed by the front door, which was left open so she’d be cooled by the breeze.
Mom was only about 20 feet away and had a clear line of sight to the girl. Her back was turned to the girl as she worked at the kitchen counter, but she’d glance around now and then to check on Lindsay.
Vidal had left music blaring over the computer in a neighbouring room before he left for the store, so Flores didn’t hear the intruder enter.
To her shock, when she glanced behind her to check on her daughter, she spotted a man standing in the hallway — the infant was cradled in one of his arms.
Flores said she cried out, "What are you doing!" and began to approach the man who she believed was trying to steal her baby.
The man looked at Flores, said nothing and walked out the front door with the child still in his arms. Thankfully, however, he placed the little girl on the front lawn and then ran off.
Flores picked up her daughter and watched as the man fled. She then went into her house, locked the door, held her daughter close and cried with relief.
Lindsay was unharmed. In fact, she’d slept through the whole ordeal.
A language barrier seems to have played a role when it came to reporting the matter to police. As a result, it was more than two-and-a-half hours before police were at the house.
Flores said she didn’t call police right away because her English wasn’t good enough.
Vidal called police on the general station line around 1:30 p.m., when he and his brother arrived home from the store. His English is better than his mom’s but not strong enough, it seems.
"I called the police but maybe they don’t understand me very well," Vidal said.
He said he told the whole story to the woman on the other end of the line at the police station and she had seemed to understand.
However, Vidal said the woman said something about the child being safe and gave him the phone number to Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba.
The family called Armando at work, but he was near the end of his shift, so he called police when he got home around 3:50 p.m.
Armando speaks English well and four police cars arrived at the house in about five minutes in response to his call.
No suspect has been arrested, but Flores was able to give a description.
Police are looking for a tall, skinny man who appears to be in his late 30s and aboriginal. He has shoulder-length hair, was dressed all in black clothing and had a tattoo on his right arm.
Flores believes the man may have been drunk or high at the time of the incident, but can’t be sure. Drunk, high or crazy seemed to be the only possible explanations for his behaviour, Vidal said.
Contrary to the police report, Flores said that the man wasn’t rocking the girl in a soothing manner. He was simply holding Lindsay in the crook of his arm.
Nor was she alerted to the man’s presence by a noise, she said. She wouldn’t have heard anything because of the music and seems to have simply turned around at the right moment.
Vidal figures that the stranger put the baby down on the lawn because he realized he couldn’t get away while holding the child.
Vidal said Canada seemed like a safe country when he moved here, but Brandon doesn’t seem as safe now.
The family had generally kept their home locked even before the incident. The door won’t be left unlocked now, even in the middle of the day, unless Armando is home.
They’re now constantly keeping an eye on their windows and doors for strangers.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 10, 2012