MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 5-year-old girl’s screams saved her from a man she said tried to abduct her outside a Memphis Target.
The little girl was playing outside when she said a man told her to go with him. When she said no, he went running.
It happened at the Target off Highway 64 Monday afternoon.
WREG talked to the security guard on the phone who said he reported the incident to a Memphis police officer inside the store when it happened. He and employees said there are security cameras outside, so there’s a good chance they caught this guy on camera.
“He was going to run off with her. That’s the only thing I could think of,” said Ashlee Wilkerson, who is just glad her little girl Malaiya knew what to do. “My 5-year-old daughter and my mom went outside, because my mom wanted to smoke a cigarette and my daughter wanted to get on the big red ball out front of the store there.”
“I was sitting in the basket, and he said, ‘You should come with me.’ I shook my head and said, ‘No!’” said Wilkerson’s daughter, Malaiya Brantley. “He had a ball cap and a white shirt.”
“My mom grabbed a hold of her, put her in the basket and went back into the store. He took off running into the parking lot,” said Wilkerson.
Wilkerson and her husband told security, who then talked to a Memphis police officer who happened to be inside the store. While MPD, said they haven’t received any calls to Target in the last two weeks, Wilkerson said the officer told her otherwise.
“That this had happened a few other times at this location, and they are on the watch. If they could catch him, they will go from there,” she said.
Target employees talked to WREG on the phone. They said customers shouldn’t be concerned because this is rare, and that the store is very safe. Customers WREG talked to agree.
“I think it can happen anywhere. You have to be careful, and you can’t trust anybody,” said customer Paul Conway.
As for Wilkerson, she is warning parents to never “let [your kids] out of your sight.” She held her daughter a little tighter Monday. She’s just thankful, Malaiya knew what to do.
“She was so proud of me that I didn’t listen to him,” said Malaiya.
The family said they gave a description of the man to the security guard and police. They said it was a white man in his 50s, around 5’11″, with grey hair to his shoulders.
MPD said they will look into the allegations further and will check back with us Tuesday. The store isn’t ready to release the surveillance video yet.