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A Charlotte woman rescued her 2-month-old daughter after a would-be kidnapper choked the mother unconscious in a shopping mall parking lot, grabbed the baby and ran, police said.

Karen Stevens of Charlotte is charged with kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and assault on a child.``She told us that her husband wanted to have a baby, and she was faking a pregnancy and she didn't want to let her husband know that she wasn't pregnant,' said Sgt. Rick Sanders of the Charlotte Police Department.

The incident began after noon Friday inside Southpark shopping mall.

A Charlotte woman, whom police had not identified by Friday evening, was shopping with her two young daughters. She noticed the suspect shopping in the same area on several occasions, but she wasn't alarmed, police said.

The mother left the mall about 2 p.m. when the other woman approached her, said she was having car trouble and asked for a ride to her car.

The kidnapper climbed into the victim's gray Volvo and asked her to stop at a car about 50 yards away in another lot. When the victim did, the suspect told her she had dropped her keys and asked for help finding them, Sanders said.

The victim got out of her car, engine still running, and walked to the other side. She bent over to look for the keys.

She then was choked from behind with a cord, Sanders said.

The victim blacked out and fell to the pavement, police said. The kidnapper struck the woman's other daughter, a 4-year-old, in the head several times, bruising her, police said.

The mother then regained consciousness.

``The next thing she saw was the woman walking away with the (baby),' Sanders said. ``She was able to come to, get into her car and ram the suspect's vehicle with her car. Then she started screaming for help and was able to get the baby back from the suspect.'

The victim dented the rear end of the kidnapper's car, a white Camaro with Ohio license plates. Because another car was parked in front of the kidnapper, her car was pinned into its parking place.

Belk security guards, on the trail of shoplifters, heard the victim's screams for help and held the suspect until police arrived, Sanders said.

Police drove the victim and her children to Presbyterian Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries.

``It appears the mother did a very good job of protecting her children,' Williams said. ``I think she did a great job. I have nothing but praise for her.'


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