A former New Jersey church pastor arrested after allegedly choking a stranger’s 4-month-old baby at an Overland Park Wal-Mart is now facing a kidnapping charge.
Oleh Zhownirovych, 54, of Clifton, N.J., was arrested after the incident in October and charged with aggravated battery and battery.
Johnson County prosecutors on Wednesday added the aggravated kidnapping charge, which alleges that Zhownirovych took the baby by force with the intent to inflict bodily injury.
The incident occurred Oct. 19 at the store in the 7700 block of Frontage Road.
Overland Park police said the baby’s mother was standing in a checkout line with her daughter in a car seat in her shopping cart. A man she didn’t know then walked up and grabbed the baby from the cart. He allegedly began choking the infant before a security guard and bystanders intervened and held him until police arrived.
The baby was not seriously injured, police said, but the felony aggravated battery charge says he attacked the baby in a manner in which “great bodily harm, disfigurement or death” could have occurred.
Zhownirovych was charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly hitting one of the men who subdued him.
He remains in jail with a bond of $100,000.
A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for Thursday but was being continued.
He was the pastor of a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Clifton but left the position last year.