8-year-old held at gunpoint on school playground

An 8-year-old girl was held at gunpoint on her school's playground in Atlanta, and now police are looking to identify the armed man who tried to abduct the third grader.

UPDATED: APS Police: Allegations of playground abduction attempt 'unfounded'

Bailey Hudson was playing outside at the Deerwood Academy playground during recess on Monday when she was attacked. There's no fence around the jungle gym that faces Fairburn Road. She said the man who attacked her rushed 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,” said 8-year-old Hudson.

Hudson said she tried to fight back.

“I was very scared,” she said. “I tried to scream, but he was choking me so I couldn't,” said the third-grader.

Seconds later, recess ended and a teacher blew the whistle. The man ran off, and Hudson said she passed out.

Hudson was taken back to class. Her mom said she's appalled this happened at school.

“Just being my age, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said 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 released this statement regarding the incident:

“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.”

— -Ian Smith, APS Spokesperson

The Atlanta Police Department was called to the scene later in the day, but officers say it was not soon enough. Carlos Campos from APD released this statement: 

“This is an incredibly disturbing incident and once we learned about it, the department immediately begin mobilizing resources to assist Atlanta Public Schools Police. 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. Regardless, we 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.”

— -Carlos Campos, Atlanta Police Department

“The ball has been dropped, and I’m very disappointed all the way around,” said Huff.

Police are stepping up patrols in the area to search for this armed man.