The boy's father, Tyrone Smith, told police he had parked his rental car in a lot near the Woods apartment building on East Butler Pike around 10 p.m. Tuesday and was walking to his apartment with his son when he heard footsteps behind him. Three men assaulted Smith, brandished a handgun, and took the keys to Smith's car, police said.
Smith fought the men in an effort to protect his child, said Upper Dublin Deputy Police Chief Lee Benson, but they wrestled the boy away and drove off in Smith's rental car.
Police are still looking for the dark-colored Chrysler 300 with Pennsylvania license plates HYJ-6836. Anyone with information is asked to call police.
Smith told police that he did not know his attackers, Lee said. But police do not believe it was a random kidnapping.
Smith "was targeted for whatever reason," Lee said. "We don't know why."
A police source said Smith was known to police and has a history of drug arrests.
The kidnapping is the second in about a week to be linked to the intersection of 66th and Malvern, but investigators said they have not found evidence of any link.
Before dawn Aug. 29, three armed men in ski masks barged into a home on the 900 block of North 66th Street in search of money and a man who lived in the house, police said. Their target, a known drug dealer, was not home, police said - so the men forced a woman, 24, into their car and drove away. The woman was found unharmed later that day. Police arrested Rafiq Young, 19; Caleb Davis, 19; and Chero Weaver, 22, in that abduction.
After the toddler's kidnapping, state police put out an Amber Alert and began searching for the child, along with members of the FBI and the Philadelphia police. The child had minor bruises and scrapes from the struggle, police said, but appeared to be in good condition.
Residents of the neighborhood were dismayed at the news of additional police activity on their block.
"How do you just leave a 2-year-old by himself?" said Diane Wilson. "After I heard he was OK, all I could say was, thank the Lord."
Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquirer staff writer Dan Hardy contributed to this article.