Lt. Brian Eynon of the Ogden City Police Department described the incident to ABC4.
“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,” Lt. Eynon said. “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.”
According to ABC4, the teacher got all 20 students away from the playground and into the school, which the suspect then tried to force his way into.
After approaching the building, the suspect, 41-year-old Ira Cox-Berry, punched on the window trying to get through—that’s when the teacher reportedly produced a firearm and held the suspect off while calling 911.
The teacher was a concealed carry permit holder.
However, as of May 5, people over 21 who may legally possess a firearm are no longer required to have a concealed carry permit after the state legislature passed HB0060.
Lt. Eynon thinks the actions of the “heroic employee” saved a life or at least prevented injury.
“This employee is protected under the Second Amendment,” Lt. Eynon said. “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.”
Police took Cox-Berry, who they said was high on some type of narcotics, into custody after a brief struggle, ABC4 reported.
Investigators say there is no link between Cox-Berry and the young girl.
“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 were on scene there when this went down,” Lt. Eynon said.
Ogden School District’s Jer Bates told ABC4 the teacher was “a hero” for keeping the students and staff safe.
“A teacher intervened when there was a situation that threatened students’ safety,” Bates said. “This teacher, this school employee, is a hero.”
“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,” he added.
The school district has provided counselors to help the students deal with the trauma, and Bates said the 11-year-old girl was “coping quite well considering the very traumatic experience that they endured.”
Cox-Berry is in Weber County Jail on one count of child kidnapping, a first-degree felony. Police say more charges are pending.