Police are still on the hunt for four suspects wanted in connection with an alleged armed kidnapping of a 22-year-old Chinese national in Markham, Ont., who was found safe four days later in cottage country north of Toronto.
York Regional Police said Wanzhen Lu, who was abducted from his condo building on Saturday, was located in Gravenhurst shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.
A homeowner who located Lu on his property on Doe Lake Road told Global News in a telephone interview that he had let his dog out when she starting barking.
“So I put her back in the house quickly because I live too far from the front door and grabbed my flashlight and went out,” said the man, who did not want to be identified as he feared for his safety.
“I see somebody out on the street so I went out, and a young man said, ‘Help me, I was kidnapped’ and ‘call the police.'”
The man said he let Lu talk to the dispatcher but he didn’t give many details.
“He had duct tape on his hoodie and he said he had been hooded so he didn’t know where he was and he couldn’t see because he didn’t have his glasses,” the man said.
“Poor guy was pretty shook up. He had a cut on his leg through his pants so I got him into the house right away and police showed up within five minutes. It just happened so fast and I’m just glad I could be a part of it and got him back to his family.”
Ontario Provincial Police attended the scene and identified the man as Lu. He was later taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
“Mr. Lu has since been brought back to York Region. He’s with investigators now and they are speaking with him about what has taken place in more than 72 hours since his disappearance,” York Regional Police Const. Andy Pattenden said Wednesday.
OPP Sgt. Jason Folz told Global News on Wednesday that Lu suffered some bumps and bruises and was emotional when officers spoke to him.
“I’m pretty confident speaking to our officers who were on scene that Mr. Lu was very emotional, very upset and rightfully so. He was abducted and managed to escape,” Folz said.
VIDEO: Wanzhen Lu was taken to hospital for assessment with what appear to be minor injuries
Folz also said Lu was located in a rural area and did not have identification on him.
“Mr. Lu identified verbally, didn’t have any identification on him. It would be a matter of shipping pictures back and forth between us and York region and confirming that, in fact, Mr. Lu was who he said he was,” Folz explained.
“This area of Doe Lake Road has some seasonal access to seasonal properties as well as some permanent residences here in Muskoka, just off of Highway 11 between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.”
VIDEO: OPP located missing Markham man Wanzhen Lu in Gravenhurst
Police said they believe Lu might have been dropped off by a vehicle.
“There are a lot of unknowns in this case and it’s still ongoing so if anyone happened to see anything up in that area last night, anything suspicious, definitely place a call to us,” Pattenden said.
Police said Lu was kidnapped on Saturday at around 6 p.m. in an underground condominium parking garage located at 15 Water Walk Dr. near Highway 7 and Birchmount Road.
Police said the victim was walking with a female friend when three men, one of whom was armed with a conductive energy weapon, exited a black Dodge Caravan and grabbed him.
Surveillance video from the building captured Lu being shocked multiple times with the stun gun and then forced into the van.
On Monday, police said the van used in the incident was located in Toronto on Sunday night.
“I can tell you the suspects did the right thing. We put that appeal out there. We told them to release him. We knew they were watching, and they did just that.”
Authorities said on Tuesday that a 35-year-old man arrested as part of the investigation was released unconditionally and won’t face any charges.
“Our investigators did believe that the 35-year-old man from Toronto who was arrested yesterday was part of this kidnapping. Exactly what part, I don’t have the details right now,” Pattenden said.
“He was released unconditionally, which means the evidence wasn’t there to support a criminal charge so he was released. As such, we can’t release any further details or information on him.”
Police said the motive of the alleged kidnapping remains unclear.
“Mr. Lu is obviously going to be the best source of information for us to where he thinks he may have been, what happened,” Pattenden said.
“Our investigators are still working through every lead. They continue to come in to try and figure out exactly what transpired.”
VIDEO: Police investigating four suspects in Markham kidnapping case
Lu, whose English name is Peter, attended Yorkville University in Toronto and was enrolled in the business administration program.
“We’re all very relieved to hear that he’s been found and is safe. As you can imagine in a school like ours, we’ve got very small class sizes and we have really sort of close relationships with each other and so this is caused a lot of anxiety our students and our staff,” Walter Lee, senior VP of Yorkville University, said.
WATCH: Abducted Ontario student found safe as police continue hunt for captors
York police said officers with the search and rescue unit are in Gravenhurst on Wednesday to conduct an evidence search where the victim was found.
“This entire case has been somewhat surprising. This type of thing just doesn’t happen in York region, a brazen kidnapping like this where force is used, where a conductive energy weapon is used to shock somebody and load them in a vehicle,” Pattenden said.
“As far as the location they chose to do it, that’s all part of the ongoing investigation. We don’t know why. Until we find these suspects, we won’t know why.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact York Regional Police major crimes bureau immediately at 1-866-876-5423 ext. 7865.
—With files from Shallima Maharaj and Nick Westoll