Police have released a man taken into custody on Tuesday after an Amber Alert was issued for his five-year-old daughter, who officers alleged he abducted from her Markham school.
“The child is safe, she’s OK … Now we’re going to try to figure out what happened and what was going on here,” Const. Laura Nicolle said Tuesday evening.
“We don’t know if the father has committed an actual offence at this point. We have to investigate that further and figure out what his mindset was, what the intention was behind this and dig a little deeper into this.”
Police said officers were called to Armadale Public School on Coppard Avenue Tuesday afternoon. The girl was taken from the school at around 2 p.m. by her father, who police said is not supposed to have access to his daughter. Police said school staff weren’t aware he didn’t have access rights.
Nicolle said they were last seen getting into a van taxi at the school, which dropped them off at a location on New Delhi Road a few kilometres away in Markham. She said they left the area in another vehicle.
The young girl and her father were seen at a Fairburn Drive industrial plaza. Nicolle said someone who saw the photos released by police and shared by the media called officers.
“Obviously this individual saw these people, called us right away and we were able to get over there and get both of them in custody and make sure that little girl was OK,” she said.
Early Wednesday morning, police told Global News the man was released from custody. The spokesperson said there is no word on any potential charges since the investigation is still ongoing. An update is scheduled to be released later on Wednesday.
OPP issued an Amber Alert after being notified by York Regional Police. Many on social media questioned the delay in alerts being sent to cellphones. Nicolle said officers went through the appropriate process.
“An Amber Alert is one tool that’s used by police to find a child, it certainly is not the only tool. Immediately when we became aware of this, we started investigating and we started conducting all the investigative steps we normally do, including putting out those photos to the public and the media,” she said.
“There’s a process for that and it is not an immediate thing. We do contact the OPP and we lay out the specific criteria that we’re dealing with to see if it meets the threshold for an Amber Alert. At that point, if it does meet the threshold, the OPP will release that information and release that Amber Alert.”
WATCH: Police say 5-year-old girl taken from Markham school by father found safe. Catherine McDonald reports.
An OPP spokesperson told Global News that the agency is aware of the alert delay, but officials haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause as of Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, Toronto police said the service’s 911 communication centre was receiving a significant amount of 911 calls from some people who were still receiving messages hours after the Amber Alert was cancelled.
“911 is in fact for emergencies and our phone lines should be kept open,” spokesperson Katrina Arrogante told Global News, adding that complaints should be directed to AlertReady.ca.
“A number of people, even if it’s just one… they’re blocking that one phone call that could very well be an emergency. That disrupts an emergency that should be coming through, so it’s upsetting.”
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