Former pastor allegedly tried to choke baby in Wal-Mart

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A former pastor was arrested after allegedly choking an infant in a Kansas Walmart, authorities said.

The 4-month-old girl was with her mother in the checkout line of the store in Overland Park at 7:23 a.m. Wednesday when Oleh Zhownirovych, 54, allegedly walked up behind her and put his hands on the baby's throat, police said.

The baby's mother, Quisha Hill, said the man tried to pull her daughter out of her carrier, according to WDAF-TV.

"I come in to grab couple items, and while I was at the counter top, speaking with the lady and bagging up my groceries, this random man comes out of nowhere and yanks the car seat out of the cart, has my baby, and he's like I'm taking the baby, I'm stealing her. I'm taking her. Call 911. Call 911," Hill said.

Fellow shoppers and security guards rushed to help the screaming mother, and managed to hold Zhownirovych down until cops arrived on the scene, police said.

"It's a wonderful thing that the bystanders were standing right there and security was there and able to subdue the suspect until the police arrived," Overland Park Police Officer John Lacy told KCTV.

The infant was treated at the scene and is expected to be fine, officials said.

Hill said she did not know Zhownirovych, who has been identified by news reports as a former pastor who left his position at the Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton, New Jersey, about 10 months ago.

Police are investigating whether alcohol or drugs may have factored into the incident.

Zhownirovych was charged with aggravated battery, according to online records. He is being held on $100,000 and is due in court on November 27.

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