Armed Teacher Thwarts Kidnapping At Utah Elementary School

AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

Since 2003, Utah has allowed school staffers with concealed carry licenses to lawfully carry on the job, and while we don’t really have any idea of how many teachers and staff across the state exercise their right to carry a firearm in defense of their students and themselves, we know that there’s at least one teacher in the town of Ogden who’s carrying while on campus, because on Tuesday afternoon they prevented a kidnapping from a school playground.

Ira Cox-Berry, 41, approached and grabbed a student, an 11-year-old girl, who was playing on the playground, police said. Cox-Berry allegedly pulled the girl away as if he was trying to leave with her, but a school employee approached Cox-Berry and demanded that he leave the school.

Cox-Berry briefly let go of the girl, and the employee was able to get the children who were also nearby into a classroom, according to a police affidavit. Police say there were 19 other children nearby at the time.

Cox-Berry then approached the building and started punching a window in an apparent attempt to get inside, police said. The employee then produced a firearm and held off the man while calling 911.

Critics of armed school staffers often claim that there’s no way educators could have enough training to actually protect students, that the presence of lawfully-carried guns only increases the risks of others being accidentally injured, and trigger-happy teachers could turn their campus into a Wild West war zone. Of course they don’t have any evidence for any of their arguments, because the reality is that none of the scary predictions from the opponents of armed school staffers have ever come to pass.

In this case, the staffer acted completely rationally and professionally. They didn’t even display their firearm until the potential kidnapping situation had escalated into violence. Far from the “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality that anti-gun activists claim is inherent among those of us who exercise our right to carry, this staffer demonstrated restraint and caution; shepherding the students under their care into a classroom while keeping an eye out on the stranger. Only when the suspect tried to gain entrance to the school did the staffer pull out their firearm, and even then, the trigger was never pulled.

Lt. Brian Eynon with the Ogden Police Department praised the school employee after the suspect was taken into custody.

“This employee is protected under the Second Amendment. 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,” says the Lieutenant. “And in this case, it is likely that a life was saved or injury to a life was prevented due to the actions of this heroic employee.”

School officials were quick to hail the quick thinking of the staffer as well.

“A teacher intervened when there was a situation that threatened students safety. This teacher, this school employee, is a hero. We don’t disagree with that at all,” Ogden School District’s Jer Bates tells us. “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 out emergency response protocols were acted out.”

While police and the school district are praising the teacher, don’t expect the Utah chapter of Moms Demand Action to do the same. The anti-gun group hates the idea of allowing trained school staff to carry in defense of students and employees, claiming that laws like the one in Utah places “children at risk of unintentional shootings and escalating conflict without decreasing the risk of an active shooter.”

I’m not aware of a single unintentional shooting from a legally armed school staffer anywhere in the coutnry, but we’ve got proof that armed school employees can and have protected the lives of the students in their care. Kudos to the Ogden teacher for thwarting this kidnapping, even if gun control activists like Shannon Watts would like to pretend it never happened.