A candlelight vigil was held in Brampton Thursday night outside the home of a five-year-old boy who remains in critical condition in hospital after an alleged attempt on his life.

Candles and teddy bears were piled outside the home where an officer stood guard as forensics teams continued to comb the house for clues to determine exactly what happened to the child.

A 28-year-old Brampton man has been charged with attempted murder in connection with the disappearance of the boy, who was found with critical injuries near his Brampton home early this morning.

The child was reported missing in the early hours this morning. His mother saw him in his room at around 2 a.m. at their home in the area of McHardy Court and McMurchy Avenue, police said. When the child’s mother woke up at around 6 a.m., the child was gone and the front door was open.

The Peel Regional Police canine unit found him close to train tracks shortly before 7 a.m. According to police, he was unconscious and showed signs of physical trauma. Paramedics said that the boy had sustained head injuries.

"Once we got the phone call our officers flooded the area and that included uniform patrol and canine officers. At around 6:59 this morning the missing boy was located near some rail tracks not too far from his residence," Const. Harinder Sohi told CP24 Thursday morning.

Paramedics confirmed that the boy was initially taken to Brampton Civic Hospital for treatment but was then transported to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, where he remains in stable but critical condition. 

At around 3:30 p.m., police announced that they had arrested a suspect in connection with the case who is known to the child and his mother.

Police said 28-year-old Dyon Smart has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, failing to comply with recognizance and breach of a probation order.

Loaded into a police vehicle, the suspect hid his face from cameras. He made a brief court appearance earlier today.

A friend of the boy’s mother told CTV News Toronto that she and Smart had previously been in a relationship. The friend said he was “lingering” after the boy’s mother no longer wanted him around, but added that she had let him stay at her house recently. Police confirmed Thursday night that the suspect is an ex-boyfriend of the child’s mother.

The Peel Police Special Victims Unit is now handling the investigation into the case and the children’s aid society has been notified as well, police said.

“This is a huge investigation so it’s going to involve a lot of resources,” Const. Sarah Patten told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. I’m glad that we were able to make the arrest today because of how big a deal this is.

“This is completely unacceptable that this has happened to a five-year-old child.”

A ‘playful boy’

Friends and neighbours gathered Thursday night outside the family’s home, near the playground where the young child could often be found playing with other kids.

“It’s crazy, it’s a tragedy,” a cousin who didn’t want to be named told CP24. “This shouldn’t have to happen at all; A five-year-old boy suffering what he’s not supposed to be suffering right now. He should be at the park.”

She described her cousin’s son as a “playful boy” who is energetic, loving and kind.  

“He loves slushies -- he’s always coming to my house, asking for popsicles, freezies. He’s a playful boy – all he does is play with the kids and that’s what everyone’s supposed to do with the kids.”  

She called the situation “heartbreaking.”

“It’s heartbreaking to hear this. No mother should have to be going through a pain like this for a child at all.”

Neighbours appeared shaken Thursday and said the boy is well-liked in the area.

“Everybody out here loves this little boy, like I'm getting kind of torn up you know what I mean. It's a sad situation,” neighbor Michael Cowan said.

“He’s a child. He’s a child – who does that to a child?” another woman at the vigil said.

Police have said there was no sign of forced entry at the home.

Officers are continuing to gather evidence, including interviews with the family and neigjhbours.

“Here at the scene we’ve got our investigators and they are doing their very best. They have started canvassing. We want every possible video feed, any information that is coming in from anybody who may have seen or heard anything,” Const. Danny Marttini told reporters at the scene Thursday morning.

The railway tracks were also shut down for the police investigation.

 “To my knowledge there wasn’t a train that came through until we entered in so hopefully if there is any evidence, we will get every piece of it,” she said.

She noted that the parents are understandably “distressed” by the ordeal.

“I heard the crying and the sobs when I originally talked to the officers,” she said. “I could hear through the phone.”

Smart is expected to return to court on Friday for a bail hearing.