MONTREAL – Montreal police cancelled a Quebec-wide Amber Alert in the case of a missing 10-year-old boy late Tuesday, but the search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou was continuing.
Police said they made the decision to lift the alert at about 11 p.m. because the criteria to maintain it was no longer being met.
A statement posted on Twitter by police urged people to “stay vigilant and report any information regarding Ariel to 911.”
The Amber Alert was initially issued despite the absence of the criteria usually required for one.
“Normally, for the triggering of an Amber Alert, there is the description of a kidnapper, the description of a vanishing vehicle, information that we do not have in this case,” Sgt. Laurent Gingras said.
“But we do have the fact that, since it’s 24 hours, since he’s only 10 years old and since we don’t have any historical reports of him missing and the fact it’s winter and pretty cold, that’s why investigators from the Montreal police decided to issue an Amber Alert.”
Gingras said it is too early to talk about a kidnapping.
“We do not know at this point if a criminal hand is involved or not,” he said. “We cannot exclude that hypothesis — but we’re not putting it forward either at this point.”
The boy left his home in the city’s Ahuntsic-Cartierville around noon Monday to go to a friend’s house, but has not been seen since. Members of his family reported him missing later in the afternoon.
Police have been speaking with a woman who had told a passerby she saw a boy who matched the boy’s description.
“At 2 p.m. Monday, a lady might have seen the missing person in a park which is close to his home and his friend’s home,” Insp. Ian Lafreniere said. “It makes sense because he left home at 12:30 … and the park is right in the middle.
Kouakou’s parents say the boy was headed to the friend’s house before he went missing.
His father, Frederic Kouakou, told Radio-Canada that as far as he can remember, “it’s the first time he went on his own to his friend’s house.”
“He had asked permission from his mother,” he said. “(Monday) was a pedagogical day. When he got to his friend’s house the friend wasn’t there, he was at daycare. There was a lack of co-ordination. That’s all we know.”
Police say the boy, who is French-speaking, is black, has black hair and black eyes and was wearing a black coat with a hood, grey pants and yellow shoes before he disappeared.
Authorities urged residents to scour their neighbourhood for any signs of the boy.
“We need citizens to please look around — look around your yard, your garage, look at possible locations where a 10-year-old kid could be hiding because of the weather,” Lafreniere added.