'All I could think of was to not let go'
Amanda Steckler didn't know what to think when the dreadlocked stranger approached her garage and picked up the baby carrier holding her 7-week-old son.
"That's all right, I got him," she told the stranger, thinking he may just be trying to help her carry the boy inside her south Fargo apartment building. Her 2-year-old daughter was still in the car.
The stranger asked where she lived.
Steckler repeated herself. "That's OK, I got him. I have to get my daughter out," she said, her hands now tugging firmly on the carrier.
The stranger started to pull.
Steckler pulled back.
"He was basically pulling me along with him because I wouldn't let go of it, and then I hollered for help," she said.
"All I could think of was to not let go."
The stranger's friend, Steven Kressin, ran over to the garage.
"What in the hell are you doing?" Kressin asked.
That's when Tyler Ray Nord, 20, of Duluth, Minn., let go of the carrier, according to court documents filed by prosecutors Monday in Cass County District Court.
Nord was charged with attempted felonious restraint, a Class C felony carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Steckler, 29 and a stay-at-home mom, said she had just returned home from visiting her parents shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday in the 5200 block of Amber Valley Parkway.
She pulled into the garage and took her son out of his car-seat base, setting the carrier on the garage floor next to the car so she could lean in and get her daughter and the diaper bag.
Her husband was in a separate vehicle and hadn't arrived home yet.
She saw a man approach, thinking he "looked like kind of a hippie," and kept an eye on him, she said.
"People who will look at your baby don't normally pick up your car seat," she said.
Kressin, who went to high school with Nord in Breckenridge, Minn., said that as they walked back to his apartment after the incident, Nord "was pretty out of it" and said he "needed his meds."
Fargo Police Sgt. Jeff Skuza said Nord fled the scene before police arrived. West Fargo police later located Nord while investigating a report of a suspicious man walking through a yard, and Fargo police arrested him at 11:16 p.m., Skuza said.
Nord, who listed his occupation in Duluth as a part-time warehouse employee, did not return a phone message left for him at the Cass County Jail. A judge set bail at $5,000 cash or bond and appointed a public defender.
Kressin said the incident was out of character for Nord, a native of Wolverton, Minn.
"It came so far out of left field it was unbelievable," said Kressin, who apologized to Steckler after the incident.
Nord's next court appearance is slated for July 24.
Skuza said the mother handled the situation well by physically resisting and trying to talk to the stranger.
Steckler said the baby boy was not injured and didn't cry during the struggle.
She said she "won't be as trusting" after the ordeal.
"Even last night, while my kids were sleeping, I found myself checking to make sure they were still there," she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528