When customers entered the Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Salem, Oregon, on Saturday, it seemed like just a normal day. They happily went about their errands, looking for the perfect athletic wear or equipment to meet their needs.
As they shopped, some of them passed by a family that appeared to be doing some shopping as well. Most wouldn’t think twice about two parents and a child shopping together, but there was something about this family that didn’t seem quite right. The mother and son looked frightened, their eyes darting to and fro.
When the mom finally caught the eye of another shopper, she mouthed something that made her blood run cold: “Help me.”
As the woman continued to make her silent plea, other people in the store began to realize that she and her son were in danger. Thankfully, several of them headed her cry for help and called the police, who quickly arrived on the scene and took the “father” into custody.
As it turns out, the man and women didn’t actually know each other. Christopher Hahn-Collins, 25, had broken into the woman’s home the night before and kidnapped her and her son at knifepoint.
Terrified but determined to survive, the woman worked to gain Hahn-Collins’ trust and the next day asked him to take her to Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Hahn-Collins was oblivious to his captive’s plan to get help. Thankfully, her plan worked!
Detectives rescued the mother and child and Hahn-Collins was booked into the Marion County Jail on two counts of first-degree kidnapping, menancing, first-degree burglary, unlawful possession and unlawful use of a weapon, giving false information to police, and a parole violation warrant on a previous sex abuse charge.
Had it not been for this woman’s bravery and the actions of the strangers at the store, this story would have had a much different outcome.
“Oh my gosh, she stayed so calm,” said Kathy Barker, one of the customers, “thinking to mouth ‘help me,’ and I’m so glad that people paid attention to her — because nowadays, people might walk right past you!”
“We have to commend her because how brave is that?” said Marion County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Chris Baldridge. “She did a great job of keeping this man calm and getting herself in a position where she could get help.”
This mother and son went through a harrowing ordeal, but thankfully they are now safe and sound. We can’t say the same for Hahn-Collins.
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