As Quebec provincial police continue their search for three-year-old Jake Côté, the subject of an Amber Alert in Quebec and parts of New Brunswick, they are urging the population not to intervene for safety reasons.
“We are dealing with an individual who is possibly armed and who could act on impulse,” the Sûreté du Québec said in a statement late Thursday afternoon.
Police believe the boy’s father, David Côté, 36, abducted Jake on Tuesday. Côté was the last person seen with the child on Banville Street in the community of Sainte-Paule that afternoon, at 5:15 p.m. ET, about 630 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
Police now believe Côté is looking for survival gear and transportation. The investigation has revealed that Côté has in-depth knowledge of the forest and is able to live off the land, police say.
“It is therefore possible that he walked to chalets and outbuildings in the area in order to ensure his survival and that of his child,” the statement says.
Police are asking residents to call 911 if they notice break-in attempts or missing tools, food or equipment.
However, police say, people should not go looking for the man.
“We do not solicit the public’s assistance in participating in the search. We ask people not to venture into a place where they could put themselves at risk,” the statement says.
Police widen search
On Thursday morning, the SQ tweeted that its officers had conducted searches overnight and were organizing more equipment and teams.
Police widened the territory under alert Wednesday to all of Quebec and parts of northwestern New Brunswick.
Jake is described as wearing a blue T-shirt with silver stripes on the sleeves and lower torso. The shirt has a six or a nine on it, in a blue camouflage pattern, police say.
He was wearing dark blue jeans and beige boots and weighs 30 pounds.
Police say Côté is five feet, seven inches tall and 180 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is described as wearing a dark sweater with a black logo and black, military-style pants.
They say he could be armed and are advising anyone who sees people matching the descriptions not to attempt to intervene, but instead to call 911.
The original Amber Alert was triggered within an east-west radius of about 300 kilometres around Sainte-Paule, which has fewer than 300 residents and is about 140 kilometres northwest of Campbellton, N.B.
The pair could be travelling on foot or in a vehicle, police said earlier, after locating a grey all-terrain vehicle that had been linked to the suspect.
‘Everyone is upset’
Residents of Sainte-Paule who spoke to Radio-Canada expressed worry and sadness as the search continues.
“Everyone is upset, especially because this affects a child,” said Mayor Pierre Dugré.
“We tell ourselves all the time that this will not happen to us, but we realize that we’re not immune. We hear more and more about mental health problems and we should all be concerned about this.”
Dugré said he doesn’t know Côté personally, but said the man’s parents live in the area and that he had recently returned to live there.
The mayor also said he is asking community members to share any information they may have with police by calling 911, and “not to venture into the unknown or put themselves in danger.”