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Amber Alert issued after 14-year-old Toronto boy abducted: police

A Toronto Police Service cruiser.
A Toronto Police Service cruiser. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

UPDATE: Toronto police said the boy was found safe Thursday night.

Officials have issued an Amber Alert for a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly abducted from a home in Toronto.

The alert was broadcast at around 12 a.m. EST on Thursday.

Toronto Police Insp. Jim Gotell told reporters the teen was reported missing to officers by one of his parents at around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

He said they believed the boy went to school and were unaware he didn’t make it there.

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“They came to the conclusion he had been abducted and they had reason to believe he had been abducted,” Gotell said early Thursday.

“We were able to confirm that earlier [in the] day at about 8:26 on Wednesday morning that a 14-year-old boy was observed to be screaming, ‘Help me, help me.'”

Gotell said the teen was abducted by two male suspects wearing black jackets and bandanas on their heads. They are believed to be between 18 and 22 years old.

The victim was last seen in North York.

“We’re fairly confident that [the boy] was abducted by strangers,” he said.

“We wouldn’t [request an Amber Alert] if we didn’t think that the 14-year-old was in danger. We are very concerned for his safety.”
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The motive for the abduction was unclear.

Police said officers are looking for a vehicle of interest in connection with the incident — a black Jeep Wrangler with oversized front tires and a front push bar with round fog lights.

How do Amber Alerts work?
How do Amber Alerts work?

Questions surfaced on Thursday about why the teen’s parents weren’t notified about his absence from his school.

Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), said officials have launched an investigation into what happened. He said TDSB procedure is for attendance to be recorded each period of the school schedule and for two phone calls to be made to parents and guardians about absences — one at 11 a.m. and one at 6 p.m. Bird said the boy’s absence wasn’t inputted by staff in time for the 11 a.m. attendance calls.

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“We’re obviously investigating to determine exactly how that happened and the specific details of the matter,” he said, adding four staff members are on home assignment as the investigation continues.

“If some sort of culpable behaviour is found as part of our investigation, then that can absolutely result in disciplinary action.

“It’s concerning. It shouldn’t have happened. Our procedures set out what must be done and they don’t appear to have been followed as they should have.”

Meanwhile, Gotell had a message for the two suspects.

“To the two people who took this 14-year-old [Wednesday morning], we are asking them if they are seeing this to release [the teen] to a place of safety where he can be returned to his family,” he said.