Ogden, UT – An armed elementary school teacher singlehandedly stopped a kidnapping-in-progress on a school playground while ushering nearly two dozen children to safety.
The harrowing incident occurred at Lincoln Elementary School on May 25, KTVX reported.
A teacher was watching the children on the playground from inside the building when he suddenly spotted a suspicious man on the grounds, police said.
“An employee was watching the kids from the inside and observed the suspect walk up to this 11-year-old girl [on the playground] and put his hands on her in an attempt to take her,” Ogden Police Lieutenant Brian Eynon told KTVX.
The teacher immediately ran outside and confronted the suspect, who was later identified as 41-year-old Ira Cox-Berry.
“At that same time, the girl had the ability to pull away from the suspect,” Lt. Eynon said.
Police said the teacher was able to get all 20 of the children on the playground into the school, KTVX reported.
Cox-Berry walked up to the school building and tried to punch out a window to get inside, at which point the teacher, who has a concealed carry permit, drew his weapon, police said.
The teacher was able to keep the suspect at bay while placing a call to 911, KTVX reported.
Police responded to the scene and ended up fighting with Cox-Berry briefly before taking him into custody.
Lt. Eynon said the suspect was “high on some type of narcotic,” KTVX reported.
He noted there is no connection between the would-be kidnapper and the 11-year-old girl he allegedly tried to abduct.
Cox-Berry was booked into the Weber County Jail on a first-degree felony kidnapping charge, KTVX reported.
Additional charges are expected.
Ogden School District Communication and Community Outreach Officer Jer Bates said the student involved in the kidnapping attempt is doing as well as can be expected, KTVX reported.
“At this time, to the best of our knowledge, the student is coping quite well considering the very traumatic experience that they endured,” Bates said.
He said he is thankful the teacher was willing and prepared to stop the incident from becoming even more severe.
“A teacher intervened when there was a situation that threatened students’ safety. This teacher, this school employee, is a hero. We don’t disagree with that at all,” Bates told KTVX. “Yes, it was a very scary situation, something we take very seriously, but it came out with a good ending, meaning no students were physically harmed, no adults were physically harmed, that this was an incident where out emergency response protocols were acted out.”
Lt. Eynon said the schoolteacher handled the situation heroically and quite possibly saved a child’s life.
“This teacher…was very prepared emotionally to confront a suspect he didn’t know, that was most likely on drugs, could be dangerous, could have been armed, and he took it upon himself to protect and be a hero, frankly, for the children who were on scene there when this went down,” the lieutenant told KTVX.
He said the teacher’s actions are protected under the Second Amendment.
“He followed all policy and procedure at the school, and in this particular case, did everything that he should have done to protect the innocent lives of the children at the school,” Lt. Eynon added. “It is likely that a life was saved or injury to a life was prevented due to the actions of this heroic employee,” he said.