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Armed school employee thwarts kidnapping of 11-year-old girl from playground

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YouTube FOX 13 News Utah video screenshot

An armed school employee thwarted an attempted kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl in Ogden, Utah.

Around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, a man tried to kidnap a student from the Lincoln Elementary School playground by grabbing her by the arm. A teacher confronted the kidnapper and was able to set the girl free.

The teacher instructed the 19 students who were outside to go inside the school. At that point, the man punched a window in an apparent attempt to force his way inside the school. The unnamed school employee grabbed his gun and pointed it at the intruder. While holding the kidnapper at bay, the teacher called 911.

Police arrived at the elementary school and arrested the suspect after a "brief struggle." The school was placed on brief lockdown after the incident.

The suspect was later identified as 41-year-old Ira Cox-Berry. He was booked into the Weber County Jail, and charged with first-degree felony child kidnapping.

The suspect "appeared to be high on narcotics," Police Lt. Brian Eynon said Wednesday.

Cox-Berry has no prior felony record, according to state court records, the Standard-Examiner reported.

Police said there didn't seem to be any connection between the suspect and the girl.

"We're trying to figure out if he even knows the girl," Eynon said. The girl's parents said they don't know Cox-Berry.

Police are still investigating the incident, according to a Wednesday statement from the Ogden police.

The good guy with a gun is a concealed carry permit holder and was in lawful possession of the firearm.

"He did everything that he should do to protect our children's lives here in the city of Ogden," Eynon said of the armed teacher. "Not once, but twice he confronted the suspect."

Many of the children were emotionally upset following the kidnapping attempt. A crisis response team was at the school Wednesday to console any students affected by the event, according to school district spokesperson Jer Bates.

"We can confirm nobody was injured and everybody is accounted for," Bates said. "This is definitely something that is concerning for parents and school employees, and most of all concerning for our students."

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