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Armed teacher stops kidnapping on Utah school playground

A man unholstering his handgun. (Dreamstime/TNS/Released)
May 27, 2021

An armed teacher stopped a kidnapping when he used his firearm while confronting a man who grabbed a child playing on a playground on Tuesday, according to authorities.

“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,” said Lt. Brian Eynon of the Ogden City Police Department, according to ABC 4. “He ran outside, the employee did, and confronted the suspect. At that same time, the girl had the ability to pull away from the suspect.”

After thwarting the kidnapping, the teacher managed to get all 20 students inside the school, at which point the suspect approach the building and started hitting a window in an effort to force his way inside.

The teacher took out his firearm and held the suspect — later identified as 41-year-old Ira Cox-Berry — at gunpoint while calling 9-11 until police arrived.

According to ABC4, officers took the suspect into custody after a brief struggle, with Lt. Eynon noting that “the suspect was high, high on some type of narcotic.”

“This employee is 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,” the Lieutenant said. “And in this case, it is likely that a life was saved or injury to a life was prevented due to the actions of this heroic employee.”

Authorities said there is no connection between the young girl and the attempted kidnapper.

“This teacher, in particular, 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 are on scene there when this went down,” Lt. Eynon added.

Ogden School District’s Jer Bates told the local station that the teacher intervening to protect the students’ safety “is a hero.”

School officials provided counselors to assist the students in coping with the traumatic event.

“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.

“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 our emergency response protocols were acted out.”