Holler. Scream. Kick. That's what Brandy Gudnason of Rock Hill always tells her sons to do if they ever have to escape a stranger's grip.
That's just what 9-year-old Brandon Gudnason did Wednesday when a man grabbed him around the waist and picked him up at a church parking lot, Brandy Gundnason said.
"Brandon elbowed the man in his ribs," older brother Jordan Demarco said.
Brandy Gudnason added, "And he was kicking his feet back and forth."
Those tactics were enough to make the man put Brandon down on the parking lot at College Park Baptist Church, where other neighborhood children were attending vacation Bible school.
Police on Wednesday responded to an attempted kidnapping at the church at 1209 Eisenhower Road. Officials have not made an arrest in the incident but are looking for a black man between 20 and 30 years old, who has short hair, is 6 feet tall with a thin build and wore a gray button-up short-sleeved shirt with a pocket on the front and long black shorts, according to report from the Rock Hill Police Department.
Nearly 24 hours after the ordeal, Brandon's grandmother, Brenda Demarco, was grateful.
"He said, "Granna, I almost didn't get to see you no more,'" Demarco said, briefly flinching at Wednesday's horror.
Taking wheelchairs for a spin
Around 8:40 p.m., Brandon and Jordan went to the church parking lot, where they frequently play basketball. Sometimes, the two take Brenda Demarco's wheelchairs for a spin in the church parking lot. That was the plan Wednesday.
As Brandon played, he ran behind a red church van. Then, a man who had been hiding behind the van grabbed Brandon around the waist and picked him up off the ground, according to the report.
The report states that Brandon kicked and elbowed the man before he put Brandon on the ground and ran from the area.
Meanwhile, Jordan was rolling another wheelchair up the road when his brother came running toward him.
"He started screaming," Jordan recalled. "He came up and said, 'Bubba, someone tried to grab me.' He was shaking.
"I ran up to the church parking lot to see if I could see the man because I knew my mom was going to call the police. I saw the man running up the street."
The man ran toward Cherry Park, and Jordan hopped in a car with a family member to try to track the man. But Jordan lost the man and returned home, where police were waiting.
Brandy Gudnason is glad her son remembered to fight his way free.
"I've always told my kids to fight, scream, kick," she said. "Do what it takes to get away."
The incident left its mark on Brandon, Gudnason said.
"He kept looking out the doors and windows because he was afraid that man was coming back to get him," Brenda Demarco said.
Hours after the attempted kidnapping, Brandon got in his mother's bed for a while before moving to his big brother's bed.
"He said he was glad the man didn't get him, that he was glad he didn't get taken away from my grandma and mom," Jordan said.
The incident stunned Mike Carter, an associate pastor at College Park Baptist Church.
"It's very disturbing," Carter said. "We didn't even know there were children out there playing."
Children attending vacation Bible school at the church had been outside playing, but adults brought them inside, he said. Afterward, others played on the lot, where a basketball goal is provided for neighborhood children.
Brandy Gudnason's children won't walk to or play solo at the parking lot anymore.
"I don't want my kids to be outside without adult supervision," Gudnason said. "Now, I worry about the kids at College Park Church being outside."
And she worries about Brandon, nicknamed Monkey.
"He's always in a tree no matter what," Jordan said.
But the tree climber refused to go outside to play Thursday, Brenda Demarco said.
"He said, 'What are you trying to do? Get me kidnapped?'" Demarco said.
Later, Brandon went outside with Jordan.
"He knows I won't let nobody get him," Jordan said.