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Officials will study Lincoln Elementary’s playground security after alleged kidnapping attempt

By Mark Shenefelt standard-Examiner - | May 27, 2021

OGDEN — Administrators will review security policies after a man walked onto a Lincoln Elementary playground Tuesday and allegedly grabbed an 11-year-old girl before school employees intervened, one with a handgun.

About 20 children were nearby on the playground when Ira Cox-Berry, 41, took the girl by an arm, prompting a school employee to challenge him, retrieve the girl and usher the children inside, according to the Ogden Police Department.

After Cox-Berry allegedly punched a school window, a different school employee emerged with a handgun to confront Cox-Berry. Police arrived and arrested Cox-Berry after a struggle.

“This specific playground does adjoin a city park, so there is a direct connection for public access,” Ogden School District spokesperson Jer Bates said Thursday, describing Ogden City’s Mount Eyrie Park.

Both the school and park are in the 500 block of Canfield Drive. According to court records, Cox-Berry lives about one block south, also on Canfield.

“Certainly this is going to be looked at,” Bates said. “Any time there is any school emergency, this is something we’ll look at to see how this happened.”

Bates said physical configuration changes on the playground may be considered to “prevent something like this happening again.”

He said he doubted any immediate steps would be implemented because the school year ends this week.

As for the school employee who drew a handgun, there will be no repercussions, Bates said. The employee had a concealed carry permit, and Ogden police said in a news release Wednesday the employee was in lawful possession of the firearm.

“None whatsoever,” Bates said of a chance that the employee may face disciplinary action, citing the “whole premise” of concealed carry meaning the armed person does not have to reveal it.

The district’s policies ban firearms from school premises except for those held by police, or other individuals exempted by the district superintendent.

Second District Judge Jennifer Valencia on Wednesday signed an order requiring that Cox-Berry be held without bail at the Weber County Jail pending court appearances.

The no-bail hold was requested by Ogden police in a probable cause statement and by the Weber County Attorney’s Office’s in a motion for detention.

Although police booked Cox-Berry into jail on suspicion of child kidnapping, the formal charge lodged by prosecutors Wednesday was attempted child kidnapping. Both are first-degree felonies.

The judge’s order said detention without bail is justified because there’s substantial evidence to support the charge and there is clear evidence Cox-Berry would be a danger to the community if released.

Ogden Police Lt. Brian Eynon said Wednesday Cox-Berry appeared to be intoxicated by narcotics and that the girl involved and Cox-Berry did not know one another.

Cox-Berry’s first court appearance is scheduled June 1.


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