A Northwest woman was charged with trying to abduct an 18-month-old boy from his stroller yesterday, after neighbors responded to the screams of two older girls and held her until officers arrived, D.C. police said.

Rosette LaFleur, 43, of 4119 Davis Place NW, was charged with attempted kidnaping after allegedly stopping the child's older sister and a friend at New Mexico and Cathedral avenues and engaged in what parents said was a desperate tugging match over 18-month-old Dost Boray.

Police gave the following account:

Ayse Boray, 10, and her friend Terra Gill, 7, were pushing the child in a stroller down New Mexico Avenue when a woman, later identified as LaFleur, approached the girls, crying out, "Stop! Stop! That's my baby."

LaFleur first attempted to pull the baby out of his stroller, and when Ayse managed to take her brother into her arms, LeFleur continued to tug at the baby.

During the struggle, Terra Gill ran into the corner apartment building, where she and her friend both live, and screamed for help, said her mother, Gay Gill.

The initial screams of the children were enough to attract the attention of neighbors and passers-by.

According to the parents, one passer-by, Wendell Lancaster, interceded and began to question the woman and children. LaFleur insisted the baby was hers; the girls said she was not the mother. Lancaster detained LaFleur until police arrived.

The woman's husband, Allen LaFleur, said, "I don't know why she did it." He said his wife, who has no children, had quit her position as a housekeeper for a Northwest family on Thursday.

Last night Gay Gill said of the morning's events: "As a parent, if I could wish for any incident to happen to my children, I would wish for one like this. The girls learned that yes, their needs would be met; yes, people would respond; yes, neighbors would answer their cries for help. It happened perfectly: This was not a situation where nobody listened or nobody believed them."