This week, an 8-year-old girl in Atlanta was held at gunpoint while on her school’s playground. Now authorities are looking to identify the armed man who attempted to abduct her.
According to a local FOX affiliate, Deerwood Academy student Bailey Hudson, was playing outside during recess when she was attacked by the unknown assailant. Because there is no fence around the jungle gym that faces Fairburn Road, the young girl says a man was able to scurry across the grass and grabbed her neck.
“The man, he walked up to me, he pulled my shirt, started choking me, and while he was choking me, his gun fell out of his pocket and he pointed it at my face,” recalls the third grader.
Hudson fought back but admits, “I was very scared. I tried to scream, but he was choking me so I couldn’t.”
Fortunately for the child, only a few moments later a teacher blew a whistle to signal that recess had ended. Sensing his window of opportunity had passed, the man ran off, and Hudson passed out.
The child was taken back to class by school employees and when her mother was informed of the incident she was understandably shaken.
“Just being my age, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said the child’s mother Shayna Huff. “And she’s so young and she’s experienced this. Especially at school on the playground–that’s the last place you’d think someone would approach you,” said Huff.
Atlanta Public Schools Police Department spokesperson, Ian Smith, has since released this statement regarding the attack stating, “The Atlanta Public Schools Police Department is investigating an allegation made by a student that a man with a gun attempted to abduct the student from the playground at Deerwood Academy, Monday afternoon. Out of an abundance of caution, after the incident was reported to school staff, students were immediately evacuated from the playground, and the entire school was placed on lockdown until police were able to assess the situation. The student who reported the incident was examined and cleared by the school nurse. The safety and security of students and staff is a top priority in APS.”
However, Carlos Campos from the Atlanta Police Department released a statement of his own stating that although his officers were called to the scene later in the day, the school did not react with the sense of urgency that was required.
“This is an incredibly disturbing incident and once we learned about it, the department immediately began mobilizing resources to assist Atlanta Public Schools Police,” read Campos’ statement. “We are disappointed, however, to have been notified about the incident late Monday by APS more than four hours after it took place. The incident took place at 1:40 p.m. and we were notified shortly before 6 p.m. We believe there were numerous measures that should have been taken during that time period to protect children in the area from further incidents and to immediately launch a search for the suspect.”
The child’s mother agrees, opining, “The ball has been dropped, and I’m very disappointed all the way around.”
Despite the glaring oversights about how quickly authorities needed to be called in, he continues, assuring the community that APD, “quickly developed an action plan once notified and have stepped up patrols in the area and assigned some discretionary units to aid in the search for this dangerous suspect. We also have investigators looking at the possibility that Monday’s incident is related to an incident on October 2 when a naked man wearing a Power Rangers mask entered an apartment on Fairburn Road and committed a lewd act in the presence of a 14-year-old girl. A connection has not been made, but the incidents were a little more than a mile apart.”
Police say they are stepping up patrols in the vicinity of the incident while they search for the attacker.