A New York City man who attempted to snatch a five-year-old boy off the street appeared in court on Friday for attempted kidnapping.
James McGonagle, 24, was charged with attempted second-degree kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child after the July 15 incident.
The child, Jacob Lopez Diaz, was walking with his family at 8 p.m. when he was grabbed and pushed into McGonagall’s car. His nine-year-old brother, Benny, begged McGonagall to give him back, and had his mother, Dolores Diaz Lopez, 45, pull him out of the car through a window.
“The defendant brutally grabbed the little boy, who was only a stone’s throw from his mother, and allegedly tried to kidnap him,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
James McGonagle, 24, appeared Friday in the Queens Supreme Court on two charges related to the July 15 kidnapping attempt. He pleaded not guilty and was taken into custody
McGonagall, handcuffed and legged, had been in the psychiatric ward of the prison
McGonagall was arrested in the early hours of July 16 after hospital staff recognized him
McGonagall’s mother Cassandra, 53, recognized her son from police professions and confirmed his identity – and that of her husband, his father, who was with him at the time.
After the brief hearing, McGonagall was transported to Rikers Island, where he will await his next court hearing on September 8.
“This is a parent’s worst fear. This mother fought to save her son. Never underestimate the power of a mother.
“Fortunately, he has been arrested and will appear in court.”
McGonagall pleaded not guilty and was sent back to Rikers Island without bail.
He will return to court on September 8 and risk 15 years in prison if convicted.
Police are still looking for his father, also James McGonagle, 55, who was with him at the time.
James McGonagle, 24, right, has been arrested for allegedly attempting to kidnap a five-year-old boy in broad daylight. His father, also called James McGonagle, left, was with him at the time
James McGonagle, 24, can be seen on the wanted NYPD poster. He was arrested hours after the attempted kidnapping
Surveillance footage shows the younger McGonagall jumping out of a nearby car and jerking Jacob off the sidewalk and throwing the little boy into his car.
The prosecutor said that during the struggle, a male passenger who had been in the vehicle was heard asking McGonagall, “What are you doing?”
McGonagall is said to have replied, “We’re taking the child with us.”
Diaz told WABC that she and her children were on their way to visit their father around 8 p.m., on Hillside Avenue in the New York City borough of Queens.
She said McGonagall jumped out of a parked maroon sedan and ran toward them.
Diaz, with her young son Benny and her daughter Zuriely, eight, pursued the kidnappers.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, my children, oh my God, my boy,'” Diaz said.
She said 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 McGonagall tried to grab her five-year-old son Jacob from the sidewalk.
Jacob Diaz, 5, has been 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-old son was the victim of a brutal kidnapping attempt
A man in a white T-shirt gets out of a maroon sedan and runs towards the family, who apparently didn’t know him
Surveillance videos show the man picking up the five-year-old boy and carrying him to the car. The recording released by the NYPD has no audio
The suspect stuffs the boy into the backseat of the sedan while being chased by the boy’s family
The mother springs into action, grabbing her son through the front passenger window and pulling him out of the car
The boy was not injured in the foiled kidnapping, police say
Benny told The New York Daily News that McGonagall reportedly told his accomplice, “We’re taking the kid!”
According to the boy, the older man would have replied: ‘No, leave him!’
Benny said, ‘I said to the man, ‘Give me back my brother!’
“My brother was intelligent and stood up and my mother took him by the arms.”
He added: “If they hadn’t given my brother back, I would have had to hit them.”
Zuriely said she heard McGonagall say, “Give me back that stupid kid.”
Jacob was not injured. His family said he was scared but didn’t cry during a horrific encounter.
The car then took off.
Shortly after the incident, McGonagall, who is from Pomonok in Queens, New York, went to Brookdale Hospital and punched an innocent bystander in the face.
In the ensuing battle, he was wounded and was taken to hospital with facial injuries in the early morning of July 16. Doctors recognized him from police professions and he was arrested.
Investigators contacted McGonagall’s mother, Cassandra, 53, who positively identified both her husband and her son as the two men depicted on surveillance footage during the kidnapping attempt.
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 that McGonagall 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 should be careful with their children,” she said.
“Always hold their hand when you walk with them because there are a lot of bad people out there and you never know who’s around.
“But now I know the man is not out on the street and now I can rest and know that my family is okay.
“He can’t do this with another kid.”
The incident comes at a time when New York’s crime rates continue to rise, with gun violence increasing and attacks on the city’s subway systems and on the streets becoming more common.
Anyone with information about the foiled 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).