UPDATE | Bench trial set for mom charged with falsely accusing man of attempted abduction

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BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) -- UPDATE 9/26/19 @ 8:55 a.m.
A bench trial date has been set for a mom charged with falsely accusing a man of trying to abduct her daughter at the Huntington Mall.

Santana Adams, 24, of Milton, was scheduled for a hearing Thursday morning in Cabell County Magistrate Court.

Magistrate Dan Goheen tells WSAZ Adams' attorney asked for a continuance in the case and a bench trial date is now set for Nov. 15.

Adams did not appear in court Thursday.

She is charged with falsely reporting an emergency after telling police back in April that an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her 5-year-old at the Huntington Mall.

A man was arrested, but charges were later dropped after investigators say Adams changed her story, calling the incident a "cultural misunderstanding."

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/5/19 @ 3:02 p.m.
A mom is facing criminal charges after police say she falsely accused an Egyptian man of trying to abduct her child from the Huntington Mall.

Santana Adams, 24, of Milton, appeared before a Cabell County magistrate judge Friday afternoon. She is charged with falsely reporting an emergency incident.

Her bond was set at $20,000, but she will only need to pay 10 percent of it to get out of jail -- a common bond condition. The charge is a misdemeanor. Adams faces up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

The suspect said nothing to reporters at the courthouse. She was later taken to the Western Regional Jail and released on bond.

Adams originally told police an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her 5-year-old at the Huntington Mall. She later changed her story, calling it a "cultural misunderstanding."

The mother reported the incident Monday night. She told police she was shopping in Old Navy and that a man grabbed her child by the hair and tried to take her, adding that she pulled a gun on him to stop him.

A suspect was arrested. Mohamed Zayan denied the accusations and even said he couldn't tell you what the mom and child look like. He also said a gun was never pulled on him, as the mother said.

Police say Zayan may have simply been patting the girl on the head and smiling. All charges against Zayan were dropped Thursday.

Video surveillance near the Old Navy entrance shows Zayan and Adams calmly walking out of the store nearly 35 seconds apart and going in opposite directions.

Investigators confirmed that Adams had a gun in her front pocket. According to the criminal complaint, Adams said it was a 9 mm Smith and Wesson.

Investigators say they're not sure about a motive for Adams making her original statement and then changing it.



UPDATE 4/5/19 @ 11:17 a.m.
A detective in West Virginia says criminal charges will be brought against a woman for falsely reporting that an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her daughter from a shopping mall, the Associated Press reports.

Barboursville Police Detective Greg Lucas tells The Associated Press on Friday that they're going to charge Santana Renee Adams with falsely reporting an emergency incident.

The charge would be the latest turn in a sensational tale of a mother who used a gun to thwart an abduction but quickly unraveled amid inconsistencies in her story.

Authorities on Thursday announced they were dropping charges against the man, Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan. Police say he may have simply been patting the girl on the head.

Adams couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

UPDATE 4/4/19 @ 11 p.m.
Mohamed Zayan, a man police say was falsely accused of trying to abduct a child Monday from the Huntington Mall, has walked away a free man.

Our crew was there Thursday afternoon when Zayan and his attorney walked into the Barboursville Police department to get his passport back.

Both say the truth about this situation has come out, and now the charge against him has been dropped.

“I feel like justice has prevailed,” said Michelle Protzman, Zayan’s public defender. “We seem to be living in a time where false accusations are becoming more prevalent. I think it would be great if we would all step back and think before we speak, react and judge."

A mother initially told police that she was shopping in Old Navy and that a man grabbed her child by the hair and tried to take her, adding that she pulled a gun on him to stop him. Police say that mom later changed her story about everything.

"I'm not sure what her agenda was, but it was still very, very bad to hurt this man and upset our entire community like it did," Detective Greg Lucas with the Barboursville Police Department said.

Zayan and his attorney say the mother's account wasn't the case at all. He says he doesn't know this woman and her daughter at all -- saying he couldn't even tell you what they look like. He also said a gun was never pulled on him as the mother said.

They say video surveillance doesn't even show them near each other. It shows the mother and daughter leave the store first and Zayan leaving later. He then went to other stores and, later, the food court. Zayan said he was extremely confused when police approached him.

Protzman says Zayan is in West Virginia working on a contract. She says her client was in the store to shop for his own daughter. His family is actually back in Egypt. She says she is now working to make sure his record is expunged so he can go back home and return if he would like. Zayan told WSAZ's Taylor Eaton that he hopes to come back and visit someday.

Earlier on Thursday, Cabell County Prosecutor Sean "Corky" Hammers says he is in touch with Barboursville Police about any charges that may be filed against the mother.

"If intentional misleading information was given to 911 which caused the arrest of the suspect -- obviously he spent several hours at Western Regional Jail," Hammers said. "I'm sure that was very uncomfortable for him, especially not even being from this country."

Police have confirmed that the woman had a gun in her front pocket. They say they're not sure about a motive for making her original statement and then changing it.

Zayan's attorney says she's hoping to get the charge expunged so he can travel freely and come back to the U.S. with no issues.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/4/19 @ 12:30 p.m.
The charges against a man, who was accused of trying to kidnap a child at the Huntington Mall, have been dropped.

The prosecutor's office announced on Thursday they had reviewed the case and all of the evidence and have decided to drop the charges against Mohamed Zayan.

Zayan, who is from Egypt, was first accused by a mother on Monday of trying to kidnap her child while they were shopping in a store at the mall.

The mother told police he grabbed her 5-year-old daughter by the hair and tried to drag her away, but she pulled out a gun to stop him.

Zayan was arrested and charged Monday night. However, Barboursville Police said in a news conference Tuesday that after reviewing surveillance video and talking with the mother again, there were inconsistencies with her story. She later changed her story about what happened, saying it may have been a "cultural misunderstanding," and that Zayan may have just been patting her daughter on the head.

That prompted the prosecutor's office to reduce Zayan's bond, and he was later released from jail.

The prosecutor's office reviewed the case and the evidence before making a decision on the charges against Zayan.

However, Zayan's attorney said there was never any evidence to back up the charges against him, saying "Our office has thoroughly and diligently investigated this case and there is absolutely no evidence to support any charges or wrongdoing against Mr. Zayan. We have consulted with local law enforcement officials and we are convinced there is no evidence to support these charges at all."

Cabell County's Prosecuting Attorney Sean "Corky" Hammers released a statement to WSAZ Thursday after the charges against him were dismissed, saying "After a complete review of all of the evidence collected in this case and after lengthy conversations with detectives and the Chief of Police of the Barboursville Police Department, I do not believe any provable criminal offense exists against Mr. Zayan. The charge of Attempted Abduction will be dismissed today and no other charges will be filed against him regarding the incident."

The prosecutor says he is in touch with Barboursville Police about any charges that may be filed against the mother.

This is a developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/3/19 @ 7:10 p.m.
Charges against a man, who was accused of trying to kidnap a child at the Huntington Mall, have not been dropped after the mother changed her story about what happened.

A mother told police on Monday that Mohamed Zayan, who's from Egypt, grabbed her child by the hair in a store at the mall and tried to kidnap her, but that she pulled a gun and stopped him.

Zayan was later arrested and charged. But Barboursville Police say after reviewing surveillance video and interviewing the mother, there are several inconsistencies with her story.

Police say the mother later changed her story about what happened, calling it instead a "cultural misunderstanding," saying Zayan may have just been patting her child on the head and smiling at her.

Zayan's bond was reduced Tuesday evening, and he was released from jail and picked up by co-workers.

Cabell County Prosecutor Sean "Corky" Hammers says he is still reviewing the case and the evidence before he determines what will happen to the charges against Zayan.

Michelle Protzman, Zayan's attorney, spoke with WSAZ on Wednesday about the case, saying, "Our office has thoroughly and diligently investigated this case and there is absolutely no evidence to support any charges or wrongdoing against Mr. Zayan. We have consulted with local law enforcement officials and we are convinced there is no evidence to support these charges at all. However, the ultimate decision rests with the prosecutor, and as we wait for his decision, we will continue to zealously advocate for Mr. Zayan."

The prosecutor says he is hoping to make a determination on the charges by Thursday.

It is still unclear if the mother will be facing any charges in the incident.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/2/19 @ 8:20 p.m.
A man from Egypt initially accused of attempting to kidnap a child from the Huntington Mall was released from jail Tuesday night after the child's mother changed her story, our crew at the scene reports.

Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, who's an engineer, was emotional as he was released to co-workers waiting outside the Western Regional Jail -- openly crying with them.

The Egyptian consulate has been in touch with authorities in West Virginia about the overall incident.

A woman told Barboursville Police that Zayan tried to kidnap her 5-year-old daughter at the Huntington Mall on Monday. She also told police she pulled out a gun to scare the suspect away. The incident happened when the woman was shopping with her daughter in the Old Navy store a little after 6 p.m. Monday.

Police said Tuesday that the whole incident stemmed over a "cultural misunderstanding" when Zayan allegedly patted the girl on the head. The mother originally told police that a man tried to drag her daughter away by the hair.

Zayan, who was released on a reduced bond, still possibly faces a battery charge, police say. They did not say if the mother faces charges for changing her story.

The attempted abduction charge against Zayan hasn't been officially dropped just yet.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/2/19 @ 6 p.m.
The Cabell County prosecutor tells WSAZ he is working on reducing a suspect's jail bond after his accuser changed her story.

Prosecutor Corky Hammers says he is filing paperwork to have Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan's bond lowered so that he can be released from jail.

Zayan, 54, of Alexandria, Egypt, is charged with attempt to commit a felony. His bond was originally set at $200,000.

A woman told Barboursville Police that Zayan tried to kidnap her 5-year-old daughter at the Huntington Mall Monday. She also told police she pulled out a gun to scare the suspect away.

The incident happened when the woman was shopping with her daughter in the Old Navy store a little after 6 p.m. Monday.

In her original story, the mom told police the suspect "grabbed the child by the hair and attempted to pull her away," and then the little girl "dropped to the floor with the male still pulling her away."

Later, the woman told investigators that the whole situation could have been a "cultural misunderstanding" and that the man may have just been patting her daughter on the head.

Investigators say it's possible that Zayan could still face a battery charge. They say it's not clear if the woman will face any charges. Barboursville Police said that's for the prosecutor to determine.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/2/19 @ 4:50 p.m.
Most charges against a man from Egypt are expected to be dropped after a woman recanted her story that the man tried to abduct her child at the Huntington Mall.

The incident happened when the woman was shopping with her daughter in the Old Navy store a little after 6 p.m. Monday.

In her original story, the mom told police the suspect "grabbed the child by the hair and attempted to pull her away," and then the little girl "dropped to the floor with the male still pulling her away."

Later, the woman told investigators that the whole situation could have been a "cultural misunderstanding" and that the man may have just been patting her daughter on the head.

The woman reported the incident Monday evening at the mall and said she pulled out a gun to scare away the reported suspect.

Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, 54, of Alexandria, Egypt, was arraigned at the Cabell County Courthouse late Monday night. As mentioned, most charges against Zayan are expected to be dropped.

Investigators say it's possible that Zayan could still face a battery charge. They say it's not clear if the woman will face any charges. Barboursville Police said that's for the prosecutor to determine.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/2/19 @ 1:30 a.m.
A man is facing a felony charge of attempted abduction after he allegedly grabbed a 5-year-old girl at the Huntington Mall Monday evening.

Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, 54, of Alexandria, Egypt, was arraigned at the Cabell County Courthouse late Monday night.

According to the criminal complaint, a mother was shopping with her daughter in the Old Navy store a little after 6 p.m. when the suspect approached them.

The complaint says the suspect "grabbed the child by the hair and attempted to pull her away," and then the little girl "dropped to the floor with the male still pulling her away."

Police say the mother then pulled out a handgun and told the suspect to let go of the child. The mother told police the man then let go of the girl and ran out of the store into the mall.

Police say a short time later, officers and mall security spotted the suspect walking near the food court, where he was taken into custody.

The Cabell County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene to help secure the perimeter.

Barboursville Police officers are investigating and believe this is an isolated incident, and no further danger to the public exists.

The suspect's bond was set at $200,000.

The magistrate says he'll have to surrender his passport and stay in West Virginia.

An Arabic-speaking interpreter was used on the phone at the arraignment.

The suspect's preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 8.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/1/2019 @ 11:48 p.m.
A mom scared off a would-be kidnapper with a gun when he tried to abduct her child Monday. It happened when the family was shopping at the Huntington Mall.

According to Barboursville Police Sgt. A. Jividen the man attempted to grab the five-year-old girl. The woman told police she pulled out a gun and the man quickly left the scene.

The mom told mall security what happened. A short time later they along with the Barboursville Police Department spotted the suspect walking near the food court where he was taken into custody.

The Cabell County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene to help secure the perimeter.

BPD is still investigating but says at this point they believe this is an isolated incident and no further danger to the public exists.

The suspect, whose name has not been released, was set to be arraigned late Monday night.

Keep checking the WSAZ app and WSAZ.com for updates.



ORIGINAL STORY
A man is in custody Monday night after an attempted abduction at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville.

That is according to Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum, who says that the man tried to grab a child by the hair inside a mall store. The mother was able to startle the man, and he took off.

The mom later identified the man in the food court area, and he was arrested by Barboursville Police with help from Huntington Mall Security. The Cabell County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene to secure the perimeter.

Police are in the process of taking a report from the victims in the case.

Joe Bell, director of corporate communication with the Huntington Mall, said they're aware of the incident and praised the police response. Bell also said they're grateful no one was injured.

We have a crew at the scene.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.




 
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