8-year-old girl says man put gun to her head, choked her on school playground

8-year-old girl says man put gun to her head, choked her on school playground


Police are searching for a man who they say put a gun to an 8-year-old's head during recess on her school playground.

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Bailey, a third-grader at Deerwood Academy, told Channel 2's Tom Jones the would-be kidnapper grabbed her Monday afternoon with her classmates present. (We often choose not to identify children who are victims, but the child's mother wanted to show her bravery and how well she handled the horrifying incident.)

"I was on the slide," she said, when describing what she was doing the moment she was approached.

Bailey said the stranger began choking her seconds before a gun fell out of his pocket.

"And then he picked it up and pointed it to my face and it touched my nose," she said.

Bailey said the man tried to get her to go with him. Fortunately, a teacher blew the whistle signaling recess was over. That scared her attacker away.


Bailey's mother, Shayna, was a nervous wreck when she found out what happened. Then, she became angry.

"Just the fact that a stranger could come off the street and grab your child and instantly be gone," Shayna said. "Nobody was watching the children at all."

Bailey's mother also wonders why there is no fence around the playground, saying it makes no sense to have an unsecured playground in front of a school.

"If you knew you couldn't get a fence, nobody's playing on this playground -- at all," she said.

Bailey's uncle, Michael, said the school took Bailey back to class after the incident. He said there was a significant delay locking the school down and calling school police.

"It's a gun at an elementary school," he said.

Atlanta Public Schools sent Jones a statement that reads in part:

After the incident was reported to school staff...the students were immediately evacuated from the playground and the entire school placed on lockdown until police were able to assess the situation.

The child's family said the district's response was not an adequate one.

Bailey can't get what happened out of her mind.

"I don't feel safe going back to school," she said.

Atlanta police say they weren't notified until almost six hours after the incident.

The department said it could have immediately launched a search for the suspect and protected children in the area.