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.
“He was going to run off with her. That’s the only thing I could think of,” mother Ashlee Wilkerson said. “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!’” Wilkerson’s daughter Malaiya said. “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. She said the Memphis Police said they had been on the look out for the suspect.
“[He said] 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 said customers shouldn’t be concerned because this is rare, and that the store is very safe.
“I think it can happen anywhere. You have to be careful, and you can’t trust anybody,” customer Paul Conway said.
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,” Malaiya said.
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.
Memphis Police said they will look into the allegations further. The store isn’t ready to release the surveillance video yet.